Air Force Chaplain (Lt. Col.) James Buckman received the St. Martin of Tours bronze medal during Oct. 28–29 worship services at Faith Lutheran Church in Lake Forest, Ill.
The medal is awarded by the LCMS Ministry to the Armed Forces (MAF) Committee to chaplains who have given extensive pastoral service to military personnel, typically for 20 years or more while on active duty, in reserve components or in the Civil Air Patrol.
MAF Director Navy Chaplain (Capt. Ret.) Craig Muehler presented the medal to Buckman, who began serving in 2016 as pastor of Faith congregation.
“Chaplain Buckman’s ministry includes deployments where his spiritual leadership greatly impacted the lives of all those he served,” Muehler said, reading from the award citation.
Buckman, he added, “always exhibits professionalism, pastoral skills and selfless devotion to duty. He continues to bring the eternal hope that is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ through his witness, preaching, counseling and pastoral care to all those he serves.”
Buckman said receiving the medal was “a great honor and very humbling. Our church body has a stellar reputation in the Chaplain Corps. To receive the Bronze St. Martin of Tours award means more than words can fully describe.”
Thankful for support from family, congregation
Buckman’s military career has spanned 30 years. He enlisted in the Army on his 18th birthday and served as an enlisted member for 10 years, five of which were with the 12th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
Following his time on active duty, he attended Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind., and then Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
While serving as a pastor, his strong desire to serve in the military chaplaincy led him to become an Army Reserve chaplain with the 10th Psychological Operations Battalion in St. Louis.
A pastoral call to New Jersey led to a transfer to the New Jersey National Guard, where he served for many years.
In 2014 he deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, where he served as the 379th Air Expeditionary wing chaplain.
While there, he led numerous Bible studies and services, began the wing’s first liturgical service, and spearheaded an effort that placed more than 5,000 hardbound editions of Luther’s Small Catechism in the hands of service members and more than 700 copies of Lutheran Service Book in military chapels throughout the region.
In 2015 he was recognized as “Chaplain of the Year” by the Military Chaplains Association for the entire Air National Guard. And in 2014 he received the Meritorious Service Medal for his “outstanding achievement” as wing chaplain in Qatar.
As pastor of Faith, Lake Forest, Buckman also serves with the Illinois National Guard. He said he chose to receive the St. Martin of Tours medal at his parish because as a Guard chaplain, he relies on the support of his congregation to continue his military service.
“I am so thankful to Chaplain Muehler for coming to our parish, preaching at three worship services and leading two Bible studies,” Buckman said.
“Being a Guard chaplain is not possible without the full support of your congregation. Chaplain Muehler’s presence and message honored our congregation for their sacrifices and encouraged us for my upcoming deployment,” he said.
Buckman’s latest six-month deployment, to the United Arab Emirates, is scheduled to begin in mid-April.
Receiving the medal at Faith also enabled Buckman’s wife, Cathy, and their children Jacob, Jim, Sarah, John and Grace to take part in the presentation.
“They have made incredible sacrifices for my ministry as a chaplain to happen,” Buckman said.
Also attending were his parents, the Rev. Dr. Allan and Carol Buckman, former LCMS missionaries to Nigeria. Allan Buckman also served as a Synod mission-board executive for 26 years.
Posted Nov. 21, 2017