SUBASE Sailor Reflects on Families' Service since the American Revolutionary War
GROTON, Conn. – A Naval Submarine Base New London Sailor reflects on the importance of Veterans Day and his family's service to the country and their descendant connection with Frank Woodruff Buckles, who before his passing in February 2011, was the last living World War I veteran.
Lt. Robert Buckles assigned to the Naval Submarine Learning Center, Naval Submarine Base New London is related to Frank W. Buckles through a linage dating back to 1719. Historians in their family conducted genealogy research, certified by the Library of Congress, going back nearly 300 years when the first Buckles arrived in the United States.
The genealogy tracking places the first Buckles to enter the United States when Robert Buckles, son of a wealthy English landlord, left England in 1719 for America on a vessel headed for the land of promise. The ships' crew helped Robert Buckles leave England as a stowaway.
"The crew barreled him up in a hogshead of sand, and put him in the hold of the ship. When officers came on board and searched the ship, turning over the barrel on the top of the one in which young Robert was concealed they declared no one could be further down that barrel and deemed the ship safe to sail," said Buckles.
If it not for Robert Buckles, born in May 1702, the first descendant to arrive in America as a stowaway, at the age of 17, aboard a sailing vessel headed toward America follow-on generations of Buckles would not exist. Because of his brave belief in a better life in America, his direct descendants settled in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and the great west.
Looking through the report on Buckles' linage, a calling for service is interwoven like the red, white and blue of our flag. Many of these descendants to arrive in America would serve in every major military conflict from the American Revolutionary War to the American Civil War to World War I and II, Korean War, Vietnam War and to present-day conflicts, all entering the service at a young age. In fact, the majority to answer the call to serve in our military all did so before their 20th birthday.
"I'm honored to share the name of a very important person in my family’s linage, Robert Buckles who was the first descendant to arrive in America," said Buckles, who entered the U.S. Navy just before his 19th birthday. "If it weren't for him I wouldn't be here today."
Buckles said his interest in serving in the Navy stemmed from that of his uncle, Army Cpt. Richard L. Buckles, who was killed in the Vietnam War in 1969.
"He was on his second tour and earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his action. He was a 1st Infantry company commander and was fatally wounded while coming to the aid of one of his wounded soldiers," said Buckles.
Family members have told Buckles that he resembles his uncle and he ponders how their lives have mirrored one another. "I often think of how I relate to him, now that I have a wife, children, and am the same rank," said Buckles.
This calling to serve our country was evident when Frank Buckles chose to fight in World War I. Frank W. Buckles entered the service at 16 enlisting in the Army on Aug. 14, 1917, after lying to several recruiters about his age. Robert Buckles and Frank Buckles, while separated by generations both wanted the same thing -- to answer the call of opportunity -- one wanted an opportunity to start a new life in a new world, and the other wanted to serve his country.
One of the other descendants of the Buckles' clan who fought for this country was Milton Abraham Buckles, who was born in June 1843. He fought in the Civil War and through his diaries the Buckles were able to learn about his service to the nation during the Civil War and his life.
"A thousand will march into danger where there is a chance for them, say one out of ten, and never even think of asking God's protection arm to rest over them," said Milton Buckles, who at the time of his diary entry on Feb. 15, 1865 had six months remaining of his enlistment.
Milton Buckles' diary reflections from 146 years ago are reflective of today's Sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines serving our country.
"We have high hopes of seeing home and the loved ones who have so long patiently endured trial and hardship for ours and their country's sake. We have endured and suffered much during the time we have been in the war, but no man now regrets what has passed, but all are glad to have done something for their country."
Veterans Day began as Armistice Day to mark the victorious end of World War I, when the main hostilities were silenced at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Congress modified the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day on Nov. 8, 1954.