Vietnam Center & Archive News and Updates

Friday, March 8, 2013

In Memory of Dr. John Buesseler, 1920-2013

Col. John Buesseler, August 1970 - Photo by Capt. James B. Evans [va035803]

Col. John Buesseler, August 1970 – Photo by Capt. James B. Evans [va035803]

It is with deep sadness that we inform you of the death of a great friend, Dr. John Buesseler, who passed away on Thursday, March 7, 2013. For more than four decades, Dr. Buesseler has been an important member of our community in Lubbock, at Texas Tech University, and at TTU Health Sciences Center.  Dr. Buesseler is perhaps best known as the founding dean of the TTUHSC School of Medicine. In addition to his remarkable work in that position, he also served many patients as a practicing ophthalmologist and was very active in historical preservation projects in West Texas, to include founding the Texas Aviation Heritage Foundation, Incorporated (TAHFI) and bringing the Silent Wings Museum to Lubbock. Perhaps less widely known was his essential role in the founding and success of the Vietnam Center and Archive at Texas Tech University. Dr. Buesseler worked very closely with Dr. Jim Reckner, founding director of the Vietnam Center and Archive, along with many other supporters, and in 1989 they established what has become the most comprehensive archive of Vietnam War materials outside the U.S. National Archives.  As a veteran who served during World War II and the Vietnam War, both of these projects remained very near and dear to him until the end of his life.

Born in 1920, Dr. Buesseler is a member of that amazing generation of young Americans whose coming of age corresponded with the Great Depression, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the many terrible struggles that ensued in Europe and Asia during WWII. Following his service in Europe, Dr. Buesseler returned home, got married to his wonderful wife, Cathy, and they pursued a life together in medicine and teaching. In early 1970, as a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves attached to the 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam, he organized and conducted a study of the US military medical evacuation system (also called MEDEVAC or DUSTOFF), a program that served as the foundation for the current helicopter medical evacuation system in place throughout the United States today.

Dr. Buesseler and Dr. James Reckner at the 2011 Vietnam Center Symposium

Dr. Buesseler and Dr. James Reckner at the 2011 Vietnam Center Symposium

Arriving in Lubbock in late 1970 to assume the founding deanship at TTUHSC, Dr. Buesseler then dedicated his life to the health and well-being of his patients, the education of TTUHSC students, and to the improvement of our community. He remained very active in both TAHFI and the Vietnam Center and Archive, serving on both boards and continuing to provide extensive support, guidance, and encouragement. The legacy of these two projects alone will remain as a testament to his vision, leadership, generosity, and devotion to Lubbock, TTU, and TTUHSC. They will also stand as living monuments to the memory of our nation’s military heroes, of which he was one.

In the words of our founding director, Dr. Jim Reckner, “Time takes its inevitable toll.  The shadows daily lengthen as the shining lights of John’s generation grow dimmer and ultimately are extinguished.  By their sacrifice, they established the basis for American security and prosperity for decades.  And now they go to eternal rest.”

At the request of the family, there will be no public memorial services held. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. Cathy Buesseler and their family. John gave so much of himself to us and we will be forever grateful for his friendship and for all he did for our community and nation. May he rest in peace.

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