Service in the bloodline
Buckinghams of Isanti County on third generation of answering military call
This Friday, Nov. 11, is the annual U.S. recognition of Veteran’s Day. The Buckingham family with Isanti County ties has an interesting connection to that date since three generations have served this country in a variety of military duties, which includes fighting in three war eras.
The string began with George H. Buckingham, a native of Mille Lacs County. He signed on as a truck driver in the Marines in 1942, going through training at the Great Lakes Naval Center in Illinois. Buckingham served in the Pacific Arena of World War II, hopping with the Marines on various islands of the campaign until the war ended in 1945. SGT Buckingham suffered a crushed foot as a main injury during that tenure.
While living in Hibbing following the war, he met and married his wife, Vivian, in 1950. George’s brother, Raymond, soon was serving in the Korean War.
“George got his World War II bonus right before we got married, so we got some bills paid up with that,” recalled Vivian in a recent interview at her Isanti apartment. “He was very closed-mouth about his time in the war. Unless he found other service men, then he would talk with them about it, but otherwise he was pretty quiet about it. But that’s not really so strange, if you think about it.”
As a young family, the Buckinghams eventually moved to Fridley, but the city life wasn’t quite what they were looking for. So they moved to a farm west of Isanti near Long Lake where they raised their six children who all graduated from Cambridge High School. Vivian eventually worked serving the patients at Cambridge State Hospital and also helped with students with disabilities at Cambridge Elementary.
The second generation
The eldest child is George R. Buckingham who was drafted into the Army in February 1970, trained in as a truck driver at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Buckingham served in the Vietnam War through late 1971. He went on to a 34-year career in both the Army Reserves and Active/Guard Reserves with engineering and chemical battalions at stations along the East Coast. Buckingham retired in 2004 from active service and is presently a civilian lead budget analyst for the 402nd FA Brigade in El Paso, Texas.
Next in line is Brian Buckingham who entered the Army in 1972, getting trained at Fort Belvoir, Va. He was with the occupation forces in Hanow, Germany for 1 1/2 years, then was discharged in 1974, adding one year in the Army Reserves. Buckingham still lives in the Cambridge area and is co-owner of Starr Quality Glass.
Third son Robert answered his draft call to the Army in 1975. But the Vietnam War ended soon afterward, and Buckingham chose to work in the civilian world, presently employed as a Post Office union leader in the Twin Cities.
Fourth son Peter joined the Army in September 1975, getting trained as an auto mechanic at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds. He was stationed in Darmstartdt, Germany for three years, then he served 2 1/2 more years at Fort Knox. He currently resides in Waconia.
Fifth son Richard signed on with the Minnesota Army Reserves at the Cambridge armory from 1977-81. He went on to live in Pueblo, Colorado for 20 years, recently returning to Minnesota to help care for Vivian.
Youngest child Karen joined the Navy in 1980, with training in Millington, Tennessee and getting stationed at the San Diego base. She served eight years before leaving in 1988. Karen married a fellow Navy man, and those two currently live in Princeton, Ky.
The third generation
The Buckingham military bloodline continues into a third generation at present. Karen’s son Christopher Caraway followed his parents’ footsteps and served in the Navy for eight years.
Richard’s oldest son Richard J. Buckingham joined the Marines in 2007. He served with the reconnaissance special ops on missions in the both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars until his discharge earlier this year.
Richard’s next son Joshua Buckingham signed with the Marines in 2008 and is still on active duty working in the offices at the San Diego base. (Papa Richard said Joshua wanted to be a sniper, but his color-blindness kept him from war zone duty).
“When my dad was alive, we used to do a lot of gatherings on Memorial Day at Bob’s,” said Richard, adding father George is now buried at Fort Ripley after passing away last year.
“We were always conscious of military service to this country,” summed up Richard Buckingham perfectly.