WHITE MOUNTAINS — Lots of people in the White Mountains know the name Buck Biddle.
Buck has long been associated with the White Mountain Base of the National Submarine Veteran’s (known as the subvets) organization and very active in community service.
He received an award from the United States Submarine Veteran’s organization in August for all he does to help his White Mountain community. He was unable to attend the presentation in Austin, Texas because of health issues, he suffers from mesothelioma-related COPD due to work in shipyards in the Navy. But locals did have a celebration the end of September at Cattleman’s Steakhouse during the local subvets end-of-year dinner when his ward was recognized and celebrated.
The award he received is the second highest bestowed by the National Submarine Veteran’s for community service.
Biddle is a veteran of 22 years of Navy service, both in submarines and on-shore duty, starting in 1971. He served during Vietnam and as a submariner on boats that were engaged in secret operations that he is not free to discuss.
Some of his shore duty was at the submarine base in Pearl Harbor.
But just who is Buck Biddle and why is he so passionate about community service and helping the less fortunate? Because he knows what it is like to suffer.
He won’t admit it openly without some coaxing, but he has seen some of the darker side of life.
Biddle lived in the less than desirable part of Elkton, Maryland (where he was born June 6, 1953) with his mother Florence and his father James, who was a pipe-fitter at a local paper mill.
“We had the only house in town that (still) had an outdoor toilet,” Biddle said.
He is not one to feel sorry for his past and does not really like talking about it. Not because he is ashamed, but because he is a man who looks forward instead of backward.
“I know that it’s like to see my mother and sister beaten,” he said. “And I’ve lived in foster families.”
But, he said, those things are among his life experiences that compel him to help the less fortunate.
“That’s why I do it,” he said.
Biddle joined the Navy after working at a Chrysler plant where he had an epiphany one day.
“I was working one day when a coworker pointed to another (older) man on the assembly line at the plant and said, ‘That is what you will look like in 20 years,’” Biddle said. He said he joined the Navy the next day so he would not end up looking like a man who had been toiling all his life.
Biddle said his brother had also wanted to join the Navy, but was turned down. He said he always wanted to be like his brother, so he went with the Navy.
He said his first choice was to be assigned to aircraft duty. But it was only for high school graduates, so submarine duty was what he ended up in.
He was an interior communications technician who kept the phones and other internal communications components of submarines working.
Biddle married in 1983 with whom he had a daughter. They divorced in 1988. The daughter lives in California now.
He retired form the Navy in 1991 due to his lung condition and started working out of Palm Springs for a Los Angeles-based cellular phone company selling phones.
He transferred to US West in Phoenix where he lived in Tempe until he retired in 2003 and moved to Lakeside.
When Biddle moved to the White Mountains, he opened his business called White Mountain Automotive Equipment that he ran until 2006 when health forced him to retire completely.
But retirement for Biddle was not just sitting around and relaxing.
He has stayed involved in community service with local non-profits (much of it through the White Mountains Sub Veteran’s organization) like the Love Kitchen, the Navajo County Family Advocacy Center, Meals on Wheels, the hospice, and many more.
“We take care of people who take care of people,” Biddle said proudly.” It does not cost anything to be kind. Everybody needs something.”
“I’m really not one to blow my own horn,” he said, adding with emphasis that he is not the only one with the local Submarine Veteran’s organization who is deeply involved in community service.
“It’s not just me,” he proclaimed.
In 2004 Biddle and other local veteran’s formed the White Mountain Base of the National Submarine Veteran’s to help the impoverished, Biddle said.