Kathleen Mary Buckles, an Iraq Gulf War veteran, passed away May 21, 2018, following a courageous battle with the painful, debilitating effects of exposure to toxic chemicals during the Gulf War.
Kitsy, as she was known to family and friends, was born in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia on August 27,1955, the sixth daughter of Lucille Marie Lenz Buckles and USAF Major John Lee Buckles. She is survived by her mother, Lucille Marie Lenz Buckles, six sisters: Barbara Thomas, HeleneCassell, Janet Lamonica, Pamela Storch, Patricia Buckles Lavington, Lucille (Sally) Buckles, a brother John Lee Buckles, and eleven nieces and nephews and and her best friend, Gloria Frazier.
Kitsy graduated from George Mason University in May of 1978 with a BS in Nursing. She began her career as a Critical Care Nurse at Duke University Hospital in Durham, NC. She began a parallel career as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force Reserves in 1982. Promoted to Captain in 1988, Kitsy voluntarily entered active duty status and was deployed in 1991, days after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Assigned to the Desert Shield/Storm area of responsibility, she assumed responsibility for leading a Nursing Unit through one of the most toxic conflicts in history, where soldiers and nurses were exposed daily to toxins released into the air, pesticides, burning oil wells, chemical weapons, detonation of unused Iraqi ordnance,and the effects of preventive measures such as nerve gas pills. Kitsy’s Military service was recognized with numerous awards, including the Air force Outstanding Unit Award and the Bronze Star. Quiet and determined to provide an example to those she led in the Gulf War, Kitsy never complained about the pain and the effects of what she experienced in the Gulf. Herfamily would only learn about the pain it would bring in years later, when it would become apparent that her body’s immune system was succumbing to the ravages of chemicals that attacked her daily and ultimately defeated her.
Upon her return to civilian life, Kitsy resumed Critical Care Nursing at the National Institute of Health where she treated one of the earliest AIDS victims before the disease was discovered and diagnosed.
At a midpoint in her working life, Kitsy migrated to a new profession in Systems Technology working first as an Application Programmer, rising to a Systems Analyst and finally an Application Development Manager and Administrator for the Internal Revenue Service. Responsible for ensuring that every taxpayer received what was owed to them, she worked long hours without complaint, providing guidance, supervision, and unmatched collegial support for a large team of professionals. Admired by all with whom she worked, she dedicated her energy tirelessly to meet urgent deadlines and achieve results. Her accomplishments were recognized with numerous awards including the Wage and Investment Division’s Commissioner’s Award for outstanding leadership and dedication to the development of the Service’s modernization strategy and programs. Kitsy retired from the IRS in 2015.
No matter what challenges Kitsy encountered in her multi-faceted professional life, she was recognized for her extraordinary dedication and commitment in the face of adversity. Her inner strength and willingness to give so much and ask so little will be remembered throughout our lives by her family, her friends, her colleagues, and all who came to know her. They are her gifts to us that shared so selflessly with kindness and a generosity of spirit we will never forget. These gifts of her spirit will burn as embers in our hearts forever. She will be missed and our memories of our daughter, our sister, and our friend will forever remain in our hearts, filling the empty chair at our family gatherings now and forever.
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