Company of Clerks and Jerks – Paul Bucha

Born August 1, 1943, the son of Colonel Paul and Mary Bucha, Paul, commonly called Buddy, and his three sisters lived in Germany, Japan and numerous United States cities. In […]
March 19, 2016

Born August 1, 1943, the son of Colonel Paul and Mary Bucha, Paul, commonly called Buddy, and his three sisters lived in Germany, Japan and numerous United States cities. In 1961, he graduated form Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis, Missouri, entering West Point with the Class of 1965.

At the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, Buddy was a two-time All-American swimmer during his three years of varsity competition. At that time, freshmen were not permitted to swim in varsity competition. But as a freshman, Buddy was a member of the West Point 400 yard freestyle relay team that set the NCAA freshman record of 3:20.6 in 1962. He served as captain of the swim team for two years.

He was the number two ranking cadet militarily and graduated in the top 3% of his class, number eighteen in a class of 596 students. In recognition of his all-around excellence, Paul Bucha received the Association of Graduates Award for Excellence in All Areas of Cadet Endeavor. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry. Immediately upon graduation from West Point, he attended the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, receiving his Master of Business Administration in 1967. Having completed his Airborne and Ranger training during the summer break between years at Stanford, he reported to the 101st Airborne Division and became part of “Eagle Thrust” which transferred the Division to Vietnam. Paul Bucha’s unit, D Company, which had been assembled from the headquarters staff and available personnel from the stockades of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions, distinguished itself under Paul’s leadership, receiving assignments as a special combat unit from the Delta to the Highlands. While in Vietnam, Paul Bucha received numerous decorations for valor, including the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm and Medal of Honor.

For Bucha and his men the call to Vietnam came in 1967 as they were deployed to Southeast Asia. On March 16, 1968, five months shy of his 25th birthday, and following the Tet Offensive, his company was dropped by helicopter southwest of Phuoc Vinh in Binh Duong Province. The area was believed to be a North Vietnamese stronghold and Bucha’s unit was tasked with seeking out and engaging the enemy forces. For two days Company D encountered light resistance as it cleared North Vietnamese positions. On the afternoon of March 18, the company’s lead group of about twelve men stumbled upon a full North Vietnamese Army battalion that had stopped to camp for the night. The lead element came under heavy fire and was pinned down. Bucha crawled towards them and destroyed a North Vietnamese bunker. He returned to the company perimeter and ordered a withdrawal to a more defensible position. Throughout the night he encouraged his men, distributed ammunition and directed artillery and helicopter gunship fire. At one point he stood exposed and used flashlights to direct helicopters which were evacuating the wounded and bringing in supplies. The next morning, as the North Vietnamese forces withdrew, he led a party to rescue those soldiers who had been cut off from the rest of the company.

Once his tour in Vietnam ended in April 1970, Bucha returned to the United States and taught an accounting class at West Point. It was during this time that he learned he would be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions in the battle near Phuoc Vinh. The medal was presented to him on May 14, 1970, by President Richard Nixon.

Following the end of his military service in 1972, he worked as Chief of Operations in Iran for Ross Perot’s company, Electronic Data Systems (EDS). When several EDS employees were detained prior to the 1979 Iranian Revolution in a contract dispute, he was involved in the effort to free them. Perot organized and sponsored their rescue with a rescue team led by retired U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel Arthur D. (‘Bull’) Simons. When the team couldn’t find a way to extract their two prisoners, they decided to wait for a mob of pro-Ayatollah revolutionaries to storm the jail and free all 10,000 inmates, many of whom were political prisoners. The two prisoners then connected with the rescue team, and the team spirited them out of Iran via a risky border crossing into Turkey. The exploit was recounted in a book, On Wings of Eagles by Ken Follett,

Bucha then started his own company which found American partners for foreign investors. With a French real estate developer he formed a joint venture which began the development of Port Liberté, New Jersey. He later worked as chairman of the board of Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation and was president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

Bucha is active in political affairs and campaigned for Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential election. In addition, he has lectured on ethics in business and government at Harvard University, Princeton University, Haverford College, the United States Military Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, the Merchant Marine Academy and the United States Coast Guard Academy. He speaks regularly to soldiers and veterans’ groups on a variety of topics and issues.

In 1997, another of his talents was recognized with the Gold Medallion Award of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

He currently lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut, with his wife Cynthia. He has four children: Jason, Heather, Lindsay and Rebecca.

His Medal of Honor citation states:

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Army, Company D, 3d Battalion. 187th Infantry, 3d Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.
Place and date: Near Phuoc Vinh, Binh Duong Province, Republic of Vietnam, 16- 19 March 1968.
Entered service at: U .S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
Born: 1 August 1943, Washington, D.C.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. Bucha distinguished himself while serving as commanding officer, Company D, on a reconnaissance-in-force mission against enemy forces near Phuoc Vinh, The company was inserted by helicopter into the suspected enemy stronghold to locate and destroy the enemy. During this period Capt. Bucha aggressively and courageously led his men in the destruction of enemy fortifications and base areas and eliminated scattered resistance impeding the advance of the company. On 18 March while advancing to contact, the lead elements of the company became engaged by the heavy automatic weapon, heavy machine gun, rocket propelled grenade, Claymore mine and small-arms fire of an estimated battalion-size force. Capt. Bucha, with complete disregard for his safety, moved to the threatened area to direct the defense and ordered reinforcements to the aid of the lead element. Seeing that his men were pinned down by heavy machine gun fire from a concealed bunker located some 40 meters to the front of the positions, Capt. Bucha crawled through the hail of fire to single-handedly destroy the bunker with grenades. During this heroic action Capt. Bucha received a painful shrapnel wound. Returning to the perimeter, he observed that his unit could not hold its positions and repel the human wave assaults launched by the determined enemy. Capt. Bucha ordered the withdrawal of the unit elements and covered the withdrawal to positions of a company perimeter from which he could direct fire upon the charging enemy. When 1 friendly element retrieving casualties was ambushed and cut off from the perimeter, Capt. Bucha ordered them to feign death and he directed artillery fire around them. During the night Capt. Bucha moved throughout the position, distributing ammunition, providing encouragement and insuring the integrity of the defense. He directed artillery, helicopter gunship and Air Force gunship fire on the enemy strong points and attacking forces, marking the positions with smoke grenades. Using flashlights in complete view of enemy snipers, he directed the medical evacuation of 3 air-ambulance loads of seriously wounded personnel and the helicopter supply of his company. At daybreak Capt. Bucha led a rescue party to recover the dead and wounded members of the ambushed element. During the period of intensive combat, Capt. Bucha, by his extraordinary heroism, inspirational example, outstanding leadership and professional competence, led his company in the decimation of a superior enemy force which left 156 dead on the battlefield. His bravery and gallantry at the risk of his life are in the highest traditions of the military service, Capt. Bucha has reflected great credit on himself, his unit and the U.S. Army.

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Kenny

Christian. American. Father. Husband. Friend. Brother. Son. Grandson. Uncle. Cubs Fan. Digital.

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