Gaynor served as an MP in Korea and Vietnam
Editor’s note: This article is part of The Inter-Mountain’s Unsung Heroes series for 2018, which features veterans in our area sharing first-hand accounts of their military service.
PHILIPPI — A longtime local police chief first learned his craft while traveling the world as an MP during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
Philippi native Gerald “Bucky” Gaynor joined the Army in 1955, and over the next 21 years spent time in Korea, Germany, Thailand and Vietnam, and was also stationed at West Point for three years.
“I was an MP, a military police officer, my entire time in the military,” he said.
Soon after he enlisted he was sent to Korea.
“I liked it over there,” Gaynor said last week. “I was in Korea three times. For 16 months in 1955, ’56 and ’57; then again in 1966, and again in 1976-77.
“The first time I was there it wasn’t long after the Korean War had ended, in 1953. It wasn’t bad. I was up in the DMZ (demilitarized zone) where all the armistace talks went on,” he said.
Gaynor was stationed in Germany in 1962-63.
“It was all right,” he says of Germany. “It was all spit and polish over there.”
Later in the 1960s, America’s involvement in Vietnam resulted in his being stationed in Asia for years.
Gaynor spent 1967-68 in Thailand. First he was stationed at Camp Friendship in Thailand, and then went to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, which was “next to Vietnam,” as he says, and served as the front-line facility of the U.S. Air Force in Thailand during the Vietnam War. Within the next few years, he was serving in Vietnam.
“I was in Vietnam in 1971 and ’72. It was during the war,” he said. “I served as an MP in Saigon. The combat was all around over there.”
In Vietnam Gaynor served in the 716th Military Police battalion.
“I think it’s probably the most decorated military police battalion in the U.S. Army,” he said.
In addition to his years serving overseas, Gaynor was also stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Meade, Maryland; and Fort Bliss, Texas. He also enjoyed the three years he spent stationed at West Point.
“I was an enlisted man in the military police there” at West Point, he said. “It was a good assignment. The facilities are amazing, all the things to do. There were so many things to do there. It was great.”
Gaynor retired from the army in 1978 with the rank of First Sergeant.
After retirement, he worked for the Philippi Police Department for 21 years, and was the Philippi chief of police from 1987-1999.
“My experiences in the Army helped me as a police officer afterward in many ways,” Gaynor said.
“It’s funny, when I joined the Army, I just wanted to get out of Philippi. But after I retired from the Army, I came back and I’ve been happy to be here ever since,” he said with a laugh.
Gaynor will celebrate his 82nd birthday on Nov. 28. He married his wife, Shirley, in 1957, and they have enjoyed 61 years of marriage.
“She never went overseas with me, but she went with me in California and at West Point. We were stationed with the Air Defense Command,” he said.
The Gaynors have four children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
He said he would encourage young people to consider a career in the military.
“Being in the military was just a great experience,” he said. “You’re taught to be part of a team, to look out for the other guy and he’ll look out for you. It’s a great lesson to learn for life.”