HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. — The Newfoundland and Labrador flag may have been flying atop the flagpole, but there’s no doubt Jimmy Buckle was soaring even beyond that.
The Corner Brook native accomplished his mission to get the province’s flag flown at the annual memorial service in Kentucky in honour of a military plane crash in Gander on Dec. 12, 1985.
The 248 American soldiers who were killed in the crash, which also took the lives of eight crew members, were based in Fort Campbell, Ky.
Buckle left home in 1978 to pursue a professional wrestling career. He has resided in Kentucky for the last 27 years and has attended many of the memorial services at the memorial in Hopkinsville, about 45 miles from his home in Auburn.
Wednesday’s ceremony marked the first time the flag of Newfoundland and Labrador has flown at the memorial for the event. The provincial flag was first raised during a practice run of the ceremony Tuesday and will remain hoisted until today.
The flag flew on its own pole, next to American flag and a third pole with the Kentucky state flag.
“I was very happy, especially when they asked me if they could keep the flag so they could fly it every year,” said a proud Buckle after the ceremony.
The flag and Buckle himself were both mentioned during the official remarks at the ceremony. One military general even shook Buckle’s hand afterwards and called him by name without introduction.
“Obviously, someone told him who I was beforehand,” he said.
Buckle said there happened to be two Canadian soldiers in attendance at the memorial, including Sgt. Maj. John Butler from St. John’s.
The public ceremony in Hopkinsville wasn’t the only service Buckle attended Wednesday. He was also invited to go to the actual base at nearby Fort Campbell for another service planned for later in the day.
“It was a little chilly but sunny here today,” said Buckle. “I believe God opened up the blue sky and let the sun shine on me a little bit today. This has been a great day.”