Korean War Legacy Project

Charles Buckley


After graduating high school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Charles Buckley enlisted in the National Guard in 1947 and was active until November 1948, when he joined the Air Force.  By 1952, he received training with the Physicians Assistant Program at Gunter and would work towards becoming an Independent Duty Medical Technician. Unfortunately for Charles Buckley, he was unable to complete his additional training at the Aircraft Mechanic school since he had contracted the mumps and was assigned with the attachment of patience.  He would make his mark in June 1953 working at the hospital training other surgical technicians by using radio to relay detachments throughout Korea which provided the necessary communication for the medical support teams at other operating sites. After Charles Buckley returned home in the summer of 1954, he contemplated his contribution to the war effort by helping various people in Korea, namely the orphaned children providing them with supplies needed to rebuild their country.  He feels there’s no other country that has paid their respects to another country more than the Korean people have to the United States, and he is so grateful for that.

Video Clips

Mass Grave Site Filled with Civilians

Charles Buckley drove all throughout Korea during his time there and witnessed the narrow roads, trees, and the damage incurred. He recalls a massive grave site that had been unearthed full of slaughtered children. It's predicted that this grave site was from when the North Koreans overran Seoul, South Korea and killed anything is their path.

Tags: 1950 Pusan Perimeter, 8/4-9/18,Seoul,Civilians,Depression,Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,South Koreans

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Thoughts of an Airman: Get the Hell Out Of There!

Charles Buckley's initial thoughts when he reflects on his experience during the war was to "get the hell out of there." He remembers his contribution to the country by helping various people, specifically the orphaned children. Charles Buckley would order from the Sears and Roebuck catalog and he would look forward to seeing the smiles on the children's faces. He also recalled the living conditions of all of the children and the civilians were able to obtain supplies they needed to rebuild their own country.

Tags: Seoul,Civilians,Food,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Orphanage,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,Poverty,Pride,South Koreans,Women

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The Korean People Are Different Than Other People Around the World

Charles Buckley traveled all over the world and he said the people of Korea are so different in such a positive way. He feels their conduct, willingness to help themselves, and loyal to their country is what sets them apart from other countries. Charles Buckley also said the Koreans were so loyal to the US soldiers and respectful to those who died for their cause during the Korean War. They are the only people that continue to thank US soldiers.

Tags: Seoul,Civilians,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Modern Korea,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,Pride,Prior knowledge of Korea,South Koreans

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Non-Combat Related Deaths

Charles Buckley said there were many non-combat related deaths with at least 5 to 7 within his own unit. While in Wonju, a radio relay site, a young man was in a 6 X 6 truck and he was trying to get up a slick mountain with another soldier, and the 6 X 6 truck rolled over killing them both.

Tags: Wonju,Fear,Front lines,Living conditions,Personal Loss,Weapons

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Video Transcript

My name is Charles Buckley, I: (Hm mm) I was born in 19th of May in 1931. I have three other siblings two sisters and a brother. My parents died, I went to the air force, but before that I went to the national guard. I remained in there until November 1948. I: But what branch of medical training did you go through? I went to training and receptoral phase and became ill with the mumps I was hospitalized for a month. They selected me because of my IQ. I: Were you able to operate? I could put eye balls back–I: You mean eye balls? Is it difficult?-in muscles aren’t hard. I: Where did you arrive and why were you there? In Korea? I arrived at Kimpo and got off the plane I went to Sole university. I: Sole Universety, it’s a Korea university. Charles: Yes. I had medical people there to take care of airmen. I:(ok) As a technician my typical day was to wait around for someone to get shot or hurt. We moved out of sole to Ulsan. When I entered that unit there where diseases.  It was not ok to treat them. I had to go back to sole. I’ve been all over Korea. I learned a lot. I had an opportunity I traded someone, and I gave them some medicine, but as far as what I saw, I saw the country side, the grass, the trees, the damage that was done, mass grave sites, in fact there was one at k55, they leveled off the runway, when they did the initial runway, and they started to level the grounds to cover the remains of children. I came back I think in June of 54. I was there about a year or so. I was going from k18 to k46 in the middle of the night just as the war ended. And I drove up on a group of soldiers, I’m still not sure who they were. But, eh, when I was supposed to be on the road at night I didn’t know that. They said well you made it through and I said yeah and they said well your lucky and I said why and they said there are still infiltrated areas in Korea for some time. But anyway I went from eh I started at eh sole and I went from sole the very first time to k18 then down to the radio relay. I:What were your thoughts about the war? Well my initial thoughts at the time were to get the hell out of there. After I got out I thought well what did I do and what did I attribute. Contribute to the country. And I’ve thought about that a lot, eh I had relationships with many different Korean people at different levels like I was telling you earlier about the orphanage, that we eh had a bunch a children there, I used to get in the catalog and order things for them, and have the pleasure of seeing them and also have the memories of 40-50 children in a room no larger than this with one pot can in the corner, and they didn’t miss it that was one of the most impressive things that I came across and what we could do for the people who took care of the children is giving the supplies, bringing them food and all that. And brought them gasoline which was not legal, and my thoughts were probably to provide to them, and the pleasure to help them after the war. I: (What do you think is the legacy of Korean war and your service?) I cant expand on that, haha.