War hero dies on Independence Day

ALAMOSA — It seemed fitting that David Buckley died on the Fourth of July.

He was a war hero who lived a life of exemplary service to his country, family, friends — and even strangers.

“He had a big heart. He would do anything for anyone, would take the shirt off his back,” his son David said. “He would tell me ‘I can’t say no to anybody’.”

Sergeant David Allen Buckley, who turned 70 on April 14, made the paper nearly 50 years ago when he made a surprise visit to family after returning from Vietnam. The Valley Courier headline read: “Home from Vietnam: Many Medals For Alamosan.”

The Vietnam veteran earned numerous medals including the Purple Heart during his two-year service in the U.S. Army, which left him permanently wounded. An Alamosa High School Class of 1965 graduate, David Buckley entered the service on June 7, 1967. He was wounded in Vietnam and received the Purple Heart in September 1969. In addition, among the nine medals he received were the Army Good Conduct Medal and Air Assault Medal.

The young sergeant was a member of the Combat Infantry 11-B, ninth Division, and was awarded the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross and Meritorious Unit Citation.

Sgt. Buckley was shot in the back and suffered malaria twice while in the service. Because of the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) he suffered as a result of his wartime service, he was most comfortable living in his off-the-grid home on Mount Blanca where he enjoyed arrowhead hunting, antler gathering and just being a mountain man.

“He loved it up there,” his family said.

Before settling on the mountain, however, the Vietnam veteran spent time working as a carpenter, mechanic and jack-of-all-trades. Although most of his life was spent in his native San Luis Valley, he also worked from the mid 1970’s to early 1980s in Las Vegas, Nevada.

He was the son of John Buckley of Romeo and Mary McAllister of Alamosa and had numerous siblings. His sisters Shelly Porrello, Midge James and Donna Waters survive, while he was preceded in death by his brother Aaron and sisters Brenda and Jeannie.

The sergeant’s son David was able to spend the last two months with his father, since he was diagnosed with cancer this spring, and plans to move to his dad’s place on Mount Blanca. Daughter Wendy lives on the East Coast. Sgt. Buckley had two grandchildren, David III and Jannine, and one great granddaughter Amara.

His family summed him up this way. “Everyone that met him loved him. He was an all-around good guy.”