Voices of Veterans: Private First Class Buster Lee Bailey Shares His Story of Service in the U.S. Army Air Force

Contact: Kimberly Hubbard
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PRESS RELEASE — Jul 08, 2024

AUSTIN — Today, Texas Land Commissioner and Veterans Land Board (VLB) Chairwoman Dawn Buckingham, M.D., is proud to introduce the next installment of the series highlighting the VLB's Voices of Veterans oral history program. In this episode, we hear the story of Private First Class (PFC) Buster Lee Bailey.

Bailey was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1946 and attended boot camp at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. After training to become a radio operator, he was shipped out to Hawaii.


Voices of Veterans: Private First Class Buster Lee Bailey - Profile


He would track the flight of distressed planes to ensure they arrived at their intended bays safely. On July 8, 1947, he was in a C-46 transport plane when an accident occurred during take-off on Palmyra Island, about 100 miles south of Hawaii. 

"The engine threw the propellers, and they came through the plane, and one of them, if it had been six inches to one side, it’d have missed me; six inches to the other side, it'd have killed me."


Voices of Veterans - Private First Class Buster Lee Bailey - Radioman Recovering


Bailey lost his right hand and right leg in the crash. He only became emotional when discussing his mother finding out about the accident.

When asked what message he would like to leave for future generations, he said, "Watch out," and began to laugh, showing a bit of the attitude that helped him through a terrible ordeal. Afterward, he said earnestly, "Keep America free, strong, and free."


U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Rick Hatch Current

To listen to PRC Buster Lee Bailey tell his story, click the button below:

PFC Buster Lee Bailey's Story


Veterans can email VoicesofVeterans@glo.texas.gov to tell their stories. Please note that the Veteran must be a resident of Texas at the time of their interview.

Voices of Veterans is a state agency's first Veteran oral history program. It records the stories of Texas Veterans through their time in service and after returning home from combat.

The VLB records interviews with veterans over the phone or in person. Their interviews are then permanently archived in the Office of Veterans Records at the GLO, where they join the historical documents of other Texas heroes such as Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and William Barret Travis.

Veterans' interviews are also available to researchers, historians, genealogists, and the public. These precious records inspire future generations and remind us of our Veterans' sacrifices.

To listen to the over 500 archived stories of Veterans documented through the GLO's Voices of Veterans oral history program, click the button below:

Voices of Veterans

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