“All my life,” remembers James Buck ’11, “I’d watched documentaries on the History Channel and read books about the world wars and Napoleon.” Beyond that fascination with history, Buck knew from a very young age that he wanted to serve in the Canadian military.
“The loyalty and honour that serving and protecting a nation command appealed to my own sense of duty to take care of my neighbour or whomever God puts in my path,” Buck explains. “This same loyalty and honour compel me to remember that there are very real evils in this world and that there needs to be a Christian voice within the ranks of our Canadian military.”
Now, seven years after graduation at Redeemer, Buck is a second lieutenant in the infantry. Officers in the Canadian military are responsible for the safety, well-being and morale of a specific group of soldiers. This can involve a variety of tasks, including analysis, planning, decision-making and providing advice. Because of this, officers must have a university degree.
Originally, Buck had plans to be an economics major and began studying at a public university in Toronto. “It became pretty clear early on that I was little more than a number to my professors,” he says, “and the impersonal atmosphere of the school made moving to Redeemer an obvious choice.” After one year, James made the switch to Redeemer — where his high school sweetheart and new wife Becky Buck ’11 was already attending.
Buck’s time at Redeemer prepared him to serve in the military while also serving Christ. “There was a lot to love about Redeemer,” he reflects. Buck points to the compact campus size, the warm community and a course schedule that afforded quietness and solitude with God. Classes that allowed for real, difficult discussion and debate were invaluable when it came to understanding complex issues. “Paramount to my experience at Redeemer was how the professors were approachable,” he says. “I felt welcome to continue discussions after class and to approach them whenever the need arose. Having a Christ-centred worldview woven throughout every class was refreshing. It deepened my understanding of God’s hand across history. I loved that discussions about God weren’t relegated just to theology classes, but were interwoven into every subject.”
Since graduation, Buck has completed three of the four phases of a rigorous officer training process. Three and a half months of initial basic training in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec was followed by three months in Gagetown, New Brunswick for his basic military qualification. Buck then finished the third phase — a dismounted platoon commanding course — in Gagetown. Buck is in the midst of completing the fourth and final phase, which will qualify him for mechanised platoon commanding. This involves commanding four light armoured vehicles (LAVs) in offensive and defensive roles. Once Buck passes this last stage of training, he will be placed in a regiment that will take him and his family — including their three children Ethan, Kate and Reagan — on an adventure to nearly anywhere across Canada.
As Buck looks ahead to his future role as an officer, his worldview is more crucial than ever. “I have had countless opportunities to share my faith since enlisting,” he says. “By being unbending in the virtues Christ calls us all to live, I have had many conversations that plant seeds in the hearts of my army family.” Each day provides new challenges for Buck. Military personnel are frequently pushed to their limits in extreme circumstances. However, Buck points to Deuteronomy 31:6 for encouragement and motivation: “the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”