Jan. 13, 2008 08:50 PM
Monday, April 30, 2007

UL journalism professor called to Afghanistan
Fifty-nine-year-old UL journalism professor Robert Buckman has been recalled to active duty by the Army Reserve and expects to report to Afghanistan sometime in July. Buckman retired from the Army Reserve nine years ago after 28 years of commissioned service but is still subject to recalls. "They are badly in need of people," says Buckman, who's had two hip replacements and a shoulder replacement in the past ten years but still managed to pass an army physical two and a half years ago.

Buckman says he contacted the Army following 9-11 to volunteer but was told he wouldn't be needed. About three years ago, Buckman says the Army began calling back and he was nearly deployed to Iraq last summer. There's still a slim chance Buckman's dispatch to Afghanistan may fall through but he's been issued a G.O. letter, meaning an Army general has signed off on his deployment and he's already contacted the University with the news. Buckman is now awaiting official orders in the coming weeks and expects to report to Fort Benning in June before heading overseas the following month for a year-long tour of duty. Buckman, who is a Lt. Col., says he's been told he will be serving as a deputy director for strategic planning on the joint staff, though he still doesn't know from which base he will be working.

Buckman is coordinator of the print journalism sequence at UL, where he has been teaching since 1989. He entered the military at the tail end of the Vietnam War and has never seen duty inside a war zone before. From the 70s through the 90s, he's served in a series of individual training tours and intelligence assignments, mostly in central and South America, due to his ability to speak fluent Spanish. His last service came in 1998 as a reserve attaché to Colombia.

"It's kind of ironic that after 30 something years I'm finally going to be going into a war zone," Buckman says. "It's gratifying to know they still think I'm useful at 59. I do things that younger people can't keep up with me.

"There are concerns," he adds, "but I'm not upset that I'm going to Afghanistan for a year. I'm concerned about making sure my great dane is going to be well taken care of. They wouldn't let me take him with me. And I got to get my house rented out and things like that."

Banner weekend at Festival International and Jazz Fest
Spurred on by glorious weather, Festival International had a banner year, with attendees packing downtown Lafayette throughout the weekend. An informal poll of Independent staffers yielded these favorite picks: sacred steel act The Lee Boys at the Fais Do Do stage (also one of multiple Gov. Kathleen Blanco sightings); Ba Cissoko's members running their koras through effect pedals to create the equivalent of African techno; and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band mixing in lines about the New Orleans Saints winning the Super Bowl during its version of "When the Saints Go Marching In."

With FIL now a memory, it's time to gear up for second weekend of The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans. Acadiana performers getting props from The New York Times for their first-weekend Jazz Fest performances include Steve Riley and Rosie Ledet. Chief Times music critic Jon Pareles said of Ledet, "Pfizer might want to contact the sultry zydeco accordionist and singer Rosie Ledet, who puts across some rocking, cleverly risqué two-steps. Her 'Pick It Up' is a cheerful endorsement of Viagra."


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