The grainy black and white picture of a 24 year old soldier showed an exuberant smile, as U.S. Army SP2C Wilfred (Willie) Buffington boldly sat on an oversized Nikey Ajack Missal, which he humorously referred to as “his saddle horse.”
Born in Bishop, Calif. in 1934, Wilfred Buffington explained what a fortunate guy he was.
“My service time felt like a vacation, as I was stationed in Germany. I used my time off to travel, since I had family in Switzerland around the Rhine River, then in Holland, then Belgium – I was even at the World’s Fair in 1958 in Brussels. My friend and I traveled around in a Karmann Ghia VW sports car. We were young and anxious to see as much of the world as we could, because soon enough we’d be back working on a farm in the States.”
Once back to the U.S., Buffington married his wife of 56 years, Zoela, and remained in the reserves until 1963.
“My family did ranching, much different than farming – less seasonal. In 1946 there were 160 acres acquired in Mina, just for raising horses and sheep. As a kid, I was into rodeo riding and “muntin-busting”. I won eight rodeo titles in all. During WWII, my family stayed afloat with goats. We’d sell the milk, cheese and meat. But in 1947 we changed over to sheep because they paid for themselves. My family came from Austin, Nev., but we would move the flocks to Tonopah in the winter. That’s how I established myself here and in several counties. It was all about the sheep most of my life.”
Buffington explained that the sheep wool he deals with was the top grade species. It’s clothing grade wool, which is sought after by specific mills and sometimes through auctions. “Sheep have made me a living, but my best part of living was built upon family, hard work and making wise choices most of the time.”
Buffington expressed his pride in being an American in Mineral County and being able to say he served this country and his family well.