Walter H. Buckmaster
Senior Master Sergeant
U. S. A. F.
Combat Air Controller, Looking Glass, SAC

Walter was born in Admore, Oklahoma, as one of three sons to Walter Harold Buckmaster and Morene Elizabeth Smith Buckmaster. His father was a service station attendant in Wirt, Oklahoma, before moving the family to Fort Worth, where he worked in assembly at Consolidated Aircraft. During World War II the family returned to Oklahoma, where his father first ran a Texaco service station in Pauls Valley. "My brother and I would get to sweep out cars on Saturday and wash windshields. My grandmother made us little Texaco uniforms," he recalls. When troop trains stopped in town, soldiers aboard tossed out money to boys like Walter and his brother to buy refreshments from a nearby store. They tipped well, he says. "We lived good! We were hustlers," he remarks. On V-J Day, Walter remembers "sirens going off and fire trucks running up and down the street." In the early 1950s the family moved to Tulsa where he worked nights in a dairy. Soon after graduating from Will Rogers High School he entered the U.S. Air Force on February 1, 1955, and took basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. He spent eight years as a military policeman, before becoming an air combat controller. On April 21, 1957 he married Sharon Jane Smith. (They would have two children and four grandchildren.) He was stationed with Strategic Air Command at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, for a year and a half, then served at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, Louisiana, and Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska. From 1966 to 1970 he served aboard aircraft in Operation Looking Glass missions. He flew in three eight-hour shifts, with one airplane taking over for another while in the air. Aboard was a general who could communicate with the President of the United States in case of all-out attack by an enemy. Such missions were to ensure an aircraft was ready to direct missiles and other aircraft if ground-based operations were destroyed in all-out war. He characterizes most of the flights as "humdrum. I mean terribly boring." Walter was stationed in Puerto Rico for a year and a half in a command post. Sent to Vietnam in August of 1972 he was based in Saigon at Military Assistant Command Vietnam (MACV). He worked in Blue Chip, a command operations center for 7th Air Force, controlling air strikes. His work was "pretty routine" until December of 1972, when America began bombing North Vietnam. "Nixon is the one that finally said, `I've had it with these turkeys. We're going to bomb the hell out of them.' And that's exactly what he did and brought them to their knees in an operation called Linebacker II," he recalls. His work schedule was "seven days a week, sixteen, eighteen hours a day." Walter returned from Vietnam on August 19, 1973 to Barksdale Command Post, where he retired in 1975.