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Kansas town buries heroic police officer

Knight Ridder • May 12, 2007 at 10:36 AM

MACKSVILLE, Kan. - Stafford County wept for one of its own Saturday, as law enforcement and emergency rescue workers from across Kansas helped bury Macksville police officer Robert "Tim" Buckman.

About 400 people packed the Macksville Christian Church for the service.

Buckman, 46, was critically injured during the series of tornadoes May 4 that destroyed much of the city of Greensburg and cut a swath of damage across Pratt, Stafford and Barton counties. He had been warning Stafford County residents to take shelter when the winds tossed his car into a field.

Buckman died Tuesday.

He was a hero, and not just on that night, said the Rev. David Crook of Macksville Christian Church. "Tim was a rescuer, and he would risk his life to help."

Crook recalled how a few years ago, a worker in the Dillwyn Co-op had fallen into the elevator's bin of wheat. The worker was suffocating in the grain and Buckman dived in to rescue him. Buckman stayed with him for 4½ hours to keep him alive.

More than 200 members of the Patriot Guard, a grassroots group of veterans and their families, lined Macksville's Main Street with motorcycles and American flags and stood at attention while mourners attended the service.

Buckman was remembered as a man who enjoyed nature and probably would have taken delight in the bullsnake that slithered quietly in the grass at the cemetery, the hawk that flew above and the mourning dove that called in the distance. Buckman was a firefighter, policeman, friend and family man. Family members remembered him as a daredevil, at times, who pretended as a boy to be Evel Knievel jumping over hay bales.

And once, befriending what he thought was a black cat in the family's barn, he noticed that its fur felt funny and it was a skunk.

"Macksville was indeed his town," Crook said. "He did things behind the scenes to take care of his town."

Buckman would cook food for local students at Macksville and help neighbors.

"Tim was many things to many people," Crook said. "He had had some rough times, but we are not required to remember any of that. Today, we are only required to remember the good Tim brought to our lives. ... Tim laid down his life for ours."

Following the service, Buckman's casket was placed atop a Macksville fire truck and taken to the Farmington Cemetery on the outskirts of town, off U.S. 50. His procession was more than a mile long.

The Kansas Highway Patrol offered a 21-gun salute. The Kansas Life Team helicopter out of Great Bend flew twice over the cemetery. And a dispatcher radioed a standby and "last call" for Buckman.

"Dispatcher calling 113."

"Dispatcher calling 113."

"Dispatcher calling 113. ... Rest in peace, Tim."

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