Eulogy for Tom (Dudley) Buckley

Advent Lutherin Church in Hardeysville, PA - June 26, 2009

By Lew Burke


My name is Lew Burke.  At times in the past, I have been asked by the President of Tom's and my WW-II bomb group association, to attend a service such as this.   I have been asked to pay our respects and say that the group is saddened at the loss of any and every member.  So I am here today to represent the 398th Bomb Group but more importantly to attempt a sincere eulogy for one of my closest friends.

The members of what some refer to as the "greatest generation" will probably never be equaled.  We grew up in a bad economical time known as the great depression.  We fought in a war that took us to many and sometimes far flung parts of the world.  We knew the freedom to exist and to have a say in our government was at stake.  I am not sure we were "the greatest generation" but we did stand out and we feel a special bond to others who served with us.  Those generations who have followed us have been tested too, but I do not believe the tests were as severe.  We in the 398th Bomb Group Association are saying good-by to Tom Buckley, but if there is a Heaven, and I believe there is, Tom will be there to open the gate for those who follow.

I first met Tom Buckley one day in March 1943.  It was on a unique meeting and took place at a small College in West Virginia.  Let me explain why it was unique and how it brought about my changing Tom's name to Dudley, a name I used for him these 66 plus years.  

Bob Blanton, who is here today, Dudley and I were at this College because we had joined the World War Two Aviation Cadet program.  Many of us were accepted at that time because due to expanding need for pilots, navigators and bombardiers the educational requirements were modified.  It was however, the decision of the Army that we still needed to be smartened up and fast.  Thus, the cram courses at small colleges.  (We were, by the way, housed in an ageing building, which had been the girl's dorm.)

In addition to the studies, drilling, and physical training, we were required to stay in our rooms and study after evening mess.  One evening a week or two after our arrival we heard a noise, which was becoming even louder as it seemed to be approaching our door.  I and most of my other seven roommates looked out and here was a lone soldier in much less than a full uniform flying down the wooden floored hall on a pair of roller skates.  My roommates and I were dumfounded to say the least.

A few days later Buckley and I ended up in a conversation and I mentioned the skateing.  Those of you who know him well know he could be blunt at times.  At that time, I gave him the name of Dudley and have called him that ever since.  Some of his family did also at times so IĆ­ve been told.

For some reason we became great friends.  Surprisingly we ended up transferred to other posts together.  We received our silver pilot wings and gold second lieutenants bars on August 4, 1944 as did Bob Blanton here.  Dudley and Jeanette were married a few days later.  Bob went a different direction at that time but some few weeks later Dudley and I ended up at a B-17 Bomber base in England.  We were in the same hut and had adjacent bunks.  As new co-pilots, we flew in different planes but often to the same targets.

Dudley and I went different directions in the late summer of 1945.  As some of you know, Dudley came back to Pennsylvania to live out his life with his bride Jeanette and later the two daughters, Penny and Nancy.  I returned to my home in Virginia.  Dudley had more than his share of adversities but he took them in stride and persevered.

Dudley and his family and I with mine still visited back and forth very often.  Even more reason I will miss the last of my very, very, close friends.  In this case, I must say my closest and most respected friend, Dudley! 


Tom (Dudley) Buckley was a pilot in the 398th Bomb Group, 603rd Squadron on the Overton's crew.