Bernard Bucher was born on February 28, 1922, in Roanoke, Illinois. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on October 10, 1942, and served in the infantry until entering the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on January 15, 1943. Bucher was commissioned a Flight Officer and awarded his pilot wings at Williams Field, Arizona, on March 12, 1944, and then served as an instructor pilot. After the war ended, he served as a C-46 Commando pilot in Asia, and helped to transport almost 900 bodies of American servicemen back to the United States before leaving active duty and joining the Air Force Reserve on May 15, 1946. Capt Bucher was recalled to active duty on March 15, 1953, and served as a C-54 Skymaster pilot with the 76th Air Transport Squadron at Kelly AFB, Texas, from March to September 1953. He then completed Air Traffic Controller School before serving as an air traffic control officer in Japan from May 1954 to October 1955, followed by service at Greenville AFB, Mississippi, from October 1955 to June 1959. His next assignment was as an air traffic control officer at Ben Guerir AB, Morocco, from June 1959 to July 1960, and then as an operations officer with the 4600th Air Base Wing at Ent AFB, Colorado, from July 1960 to June 1962. He served as a pilot with the 64th Air Division, 4601st Support Wing, and 26th Air Division, and 4603rd Air Base Group at Stewart AFB, New York, from June 1962 to September 1966, and then served as a C-130 Hercules pilot with the 47th Tactical Airlift Squadron at Forbes AFB, Kansas, from September 1966 to January 1968. Maj Bucher next deployed to Southeast Asia, where he served with the 774th Tactical Airlift Squadron of the 463rd Tactical Airlift Wing at Mactan Isle in the Philippines from January 1968 until he was killed in action on May 12, 1968. His remains were returned to the United States on June 9, 1993, and were buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
His Air Force Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, awards the Air Force Cross to Major Bernard L. Bucher for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as a C-130 Aircraft Commander in the Republic of Vietnam on 12 May 1968. On that date, Major Bucher volunteered to attempt the rescue of friendly forces from the Kham Duc airfield. Hostile forces had completely encircled the airfield. The surrounding terrain was extremely hazardous with 300 to 350 foot hills at each end of the runway. Shell fragments, munitions, and other debris littered the entire runway. After careful evaluation of the danger and realizing the hopeless position of the remaining defenders if they were not evacuated, Major Bucher elected to try the landing. Approaching the field from a steep angle of attack to avoid as much of the hail of enemy fire as possible, he successfully landed his aircraft and immediately began loading the defenders. After loading, Major Bucher faced the task of taking off through the heavy hostile fire. An abandoned bulldozer and a crashed helicopter blocked much of the runway. After an amazingly successful takeoff, Major Bucher's aircraft was seen to crash and catch fire. During the entire action, Major Bucher displayed the highest traditions of a professional Air Force officer. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship and concern for his fellowmen, Major Bucher reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.