Story by Whitney Allen
Feature Photo by Melissa Scott
Cadets in the 3rd Regiment of the Leader’s Training Course had lunch with a special guest at the Forest Hills Climbing Complex Monday. Bishop Neal Buckon, Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Military Services, toured several Cadet Summer Training sites and sat down with cadets to discuss their training.
Although Bishop Buckon now serves the western part of the United States, this isn’t his first time at Fort Knox. Twenty years ago, Buckon spent a summer here working with cadets as a chaplain candidate.
Bishop Buckon ate lunch with Cadets Lamar Minter of Tennessee State (Nashville) and Michael Waters of Appalachian State University at Boone, North Carolina. Buckon discussed their future plans and shared his own personal experiences working with a group of engineers in Baghdad.
Buckon advises Cadets to think of Cadet Summer Training as a time of preparation. “You’re not only developing yourself but developing to serve the country,” Buckon said. “Prepare yourself for a life of service.
Buckon has serviced the military through numerous jobs. He spent time in both the Transportation and Infantry branches in addition to his work in the chaplaincy.
Not only can the bishop offer advice from his professional experience, but he can also relate to the Cadets on another level. From 1971 to 1975, Buckon was an ROTC Cadet at John Carroll University.
While in the ROTC program he opted to spend one of his summers at Ranger School in Fort Benning, Ga. He recalls being somewhat removed from the rest of the world during training, similar to the cadets’ experience now without cell phones or laptops.
“I came back from patrol and Nixon had resigned,” Buckon said.
Before he left for Ranger school, Buckon said one of his mentors gave him a piece of advice that has stuck with him.
“He told me to just keep putting one foot in front of the other,” Buckon said. “I was doing that and I was also praying.”
Now, 40 years after his own summer training, Buckon shares his advice for Cadets.
“The thing to know is that you have to be thinking of the value of your service to your country,” Buckon said. “Do your best at every assignment the Army gives you.”
Through his own service to the military Buckon said he has met a lot of incredible people.
“We have wonderful people. People that love God, people that love their country,” Buckon said. “There’s a lot of faith, hope and love in the military.”