Buck Buckland was just a quarter-mile away when the Berlin Wall came down.
On Nov. 9, 1989, Buckland was having a drink with friends in a house in Berlin, where he was living and working for the National Security Agency. A war movie was on the TV in another room. When the background noise escalated, one of the men ran to check the TV screen and saw history.
Buckland and his friends ran out of the house with a bottle of whiskey and some paper cups. They arrived at the Wall in time to greet people coming across from Soviet-controlled East Berlin.
"Welcome to freedom," one of Buckland's friends said to a passerby. "Buck, give that man a drink."
Buckland, a 12-year Routt County resident and part-time employee of Ferrellgas, smiles when he tells that story. It's one of many, and Buckland can relay them all with the ease of a natural storyteller.
He's seen a lot in his 75 years.
When World War II ended, Buckland was a 12-year-old boy who liked to collect airplane trading cards. That passion took flight from 1952-57, when he served in the U.S. Air Force as a "ditty-bopper" operator of manual Morse radios. In 1962, when the Soviet Union built missile installations on the island of Cuba, Buckland was beginning his 36-year career with the NSA as a traffic analyst stationed in Maryland.
"Things changed drastically when the Russians moved the missiles in," Buckland said. "Kennedy was hard-nosed and didn't back down."
These days, Buckland lives with his wife of 51 years, Christine, and enjoys fishing and restoring old cars. Buckland said he originally came to the Colorado high country in 1970, and visited Steamboat Springs for the hunting, fishing and hiking.
"And then one time," he said, "I got with this Realtor up here :"
That's a story many locals know.