CLEVELAND, OHIO – Auxiliary Bishop Neal J. Buckon was inducted Saturday into the Wolfpack Hall of Fame at John Carroll University(JCU). JCU’s President, Father Robert J. Niehoff, S.J., and Lt. Col.Matthew Johnson, USA, Professor of Military Science and Detachment Commander, presented the citation and a plaque to Bishop Buckon during a 10:00 a.m. ceremony at the St. Francis Chapel on campus. Approximately 150 attended.
According to the citation addressed to Bishop Buckon, “This honor results from your outstanding and exemplary life of service, embodiment of Army values, and stalwart support of the John Carroll mission to inspire individuals to excel in learning, leadership, and service in the region and in the world. By this act of receiving and recording you in the annals of University history, future generations who find your name in the presence of other great leaders of this institution, will follow the inspiration you so provide.”
Bishop Buckon is a 1975 graduate of JCU, where he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Army through the university’s R.O.T.C. program and earned of Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in biology. Ordained a Catholic priest in 1995, he now serves the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), as Episcopal Vicar for the Western United States. The May 21 induction came on the 41st anniversary of his commissioning in the Army.
Bishop Buckon said:
“It is a great honor for me to be inducted into John Carroll University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps’ Hall of Fame. When I was in high school I sensed a vocation for service. The outstanding R.O.T.C. program at JCU prepared me well for an exciting career of service to our Country as an Army Officer. While I was on active duty I discerned that I had a vocation to serve both God and Country; and the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, gave me the opportunity to make it happen.”
In addition to his JCU induction, Bishop Buckon will be inducted, along with General Carter F. Ham, USA (RET.), and others into theU.S. Army Cadet Command Hall of Fame at Fort Knox on June 10. Gen. Ham was guest speaker at Saturday’s ceremony.
Bishop Buckon said both honors came as a surprise:
“I never anticipated the honor JCU’s R.O.T.C. Department is bestowing upon me, nor did I foresee that I would be selected for induction into the Army’s National R.O.T.C. Hall of Fame at Fort Knox, Kentucky, on June 10th, 2016. I just want to be where God wants me to be, doing the work that God wants me to do.”
Bishop Buckon, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, is the son of John and Rita Buckon. In addition to his B.S. degree from JCU, he holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree. in History from Cleveland State University and a B.A. in Philosophy from Borromeo College of Ohio. He received his Master of Arts (M.A.) in Divinity, and his M.A. in Church History from Saint Mary Seminary in Cleveland.
At JCU in May 1975, Bishop Buckon was recognized as a Distinguished Military Graduate and appointed as an Army Officer and served in both the Infantry and Transportation Branches of the U.S. Army. His awards include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, theMeritorious Service Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), the Parachutist Badge, and the Ranger Tab.
Bishop Buckon’s Infantry assignments include:
- Rifle Platoon Leader and Weapons Platoon Leader with the 1st Bn, 46th Infantry, 1st Armor DIV, Erlangen, Germany;
- Battalion S4 & Company Commander with 3rd Bn, 19th Infantry, 24th Infantry Division, Ft. Stewart, Ga.
His Transportation Corps assignments include:
- Mannheim, Germany, as a Platoon Leader and Company Operations Officer with the 28th Transportation Bn;
- Platoon Leader and Transportation Officer in the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the Allied Command Europe, Mobile Force (Land) (including deployments to Denmark, England, and Norway).
After serving on active duty for seven years, Bishop Buckon resigned his commission, traveled the world, visiting over one hundred countries, and began studies for the priesthood. While in the Seminary, he served in the U.S. Army Reserve as a Chaplain Candidate. He was ordained a priest in May 1995 for the Diocese of Cleveland and assigned to Saint Margaret Mary Church in South Euclid, Ohio. He was subsequently accessed into the United States Army Chaplain Corps in 1996.
His Army Chaplain assignments include:
- 2nd Psychological Operations Group, Cleveland & Bosnia;
- Division Artillery, 3rd Infantry Division, Ft. Stewart, Ga.;
- Army Central Command, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia;
- Division Engineer for 1st Armored Div. Giessen, Germany;
- Engineer Brigade & Senior Catholic Priest for Task Force Baghdad, Iraq (OIF-1);
- Deputy Garrison Chaplain in Heidelberg, Germany;
- Garrison of the Fires Center of Excellence, Ft. Sill, Okla.;
- Catholic Ministry, Multi National Corps – Iraq (MNC-I);
- 18th MEDCOM Command in Yongsan, Korea;
- Eighth United States Army for Current Operations and Catholic Chaplain in Yongsan, Korea.
Bishop Buckon retired from the Army in December 2010 before being ordained a bishop.
“I cherish the memories of my years in the Infantry, the Transportation Corps, and the Chaplain Corps. I am blessed by the life-long friendships that I acquired while serving in the military.”
Currently, Bishop Buckon is the Episcopal Moderator of the Military Council of Catholic Women and a member of the Board of Directors of John Carroll University. He is a Knight Commander of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, and a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus.