Parents pay tribute to soldier and family man

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THE devastated parents of a soldier from Whitby have paid tribute to their son who lived for serving his country.

Artificer Sergeant Major John Buck (41, pictured right) was found dead last Friday at the quarters he shares with wife Rachel and three children Jordan (18), Kiefer (14) and Erin (13) in Fallingbostel in Germany.

John had not been on active service at the time of his death.

Parents Ted and Dawn Buck of Captain Cook Crescent spoke exclusively to the Whitby Gazette about how proud they were of their eldest son.

They said: “We couldn’t be prouder of him. You just have to look at that picture of him with his medals – it would make anyone proud.”

Dawn, who had visited John at the barracks just a fortnight ago and attended a Christmas market, added: “All he ever wanted to do in life was be a soldier.

“He never wanted to be anything else.”

He had been brought up around army life and lived at Catterick and several parts of Germany as dad Ted served with the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME).

As soon as John left school at the age of 16 he followed in his father’s footsteps and enlisted with REME (attached to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards) himself after a spell with the Whitby Army Cadets.

His younger brother James also spent five years in the armed forces as a member of the Royal Artillery.

Ted said: “It was just something he was brought up to do – living in army camps all his life, it is as easy as that.

“He enjoyed it which is why what has happened has come as a shock, we are struggling to understand it really.”

Back in 1987 John was stationed in Dortmund, Germany, but his first major posting was Operation Desert Storm for the first Gulf War in 1990.

In 1992 he married Whitby girl Rachel Morris who still has family living in Whitby.

After that came operational tours of duty in Kosovo and Bosnia in the mid to late 1990s and a tour of Canada.

John, a vehicle mechanic who specialised in armoured vehicles and tanks, was re-deployed for the second Gulf War and also undertook two tours in Afghanistan.

He was the commander of the workshop in which fellow Whitby soldier Craftsman Andrew Found was a member when he was killed by an improvised explosive device in June.

Ted said: “He was not there when Andrew died.

“He did two tours prior to that and because of his rank he had to stay behind in Germany.”

Away from work, John – a lifelong Middlesbrough fan – loved all sports and played for regiment, doted on his family and loved getting the chance to return to Whitby for a visit.

The couple added: “He was very much a strong family man who doted on his children in between pursuing his career and carrying out operations.

“He loved Whitby and when he came back the first stop was chips and gravy and the Fishermen’s Club for a pint.”

John was also very much behind the Save Whitby’s Piers campaign and it was a comment from him that kicked off the project to get the West and East piers named after fallen soldiers Andrew Found and Corporal Damian Lawrence.

Colin Winspear, cousin and campaigner, said: “He was very outspoken on here.

“This was due to his love for Whitby and his passion for things being done in a right and proper way.

“I will make sure his contribution won’t go unknown.”