Veteran Orville "Bud" Long

Orville "Bud" Long

The name “Bud” is just right for him: it suggests friendship, informality, and an interest in other people.  Bud is downright lavish in all these characteristics.

He was born on April 4, 1931 near the places he has worshiped for most of his adult life:  Massanutten Presbyterian Church in Rockingham County, Virginia.  The second son born to Leander Long and Julia Armentrout, and the only male of four children, he grew up on a farm near Keezletown, Virginia, not far from the place of his birth.

He remembers his early years and the influence they have had on his life.  From the very first he loved the outdoors.  But he admitted to a strong dislike of the work he was required to do as a child, picking up rocks and placing them in piles, and digging out thistles by their roots.  Having so many rocks on their farm caused Bud to think the county was well named Rockingham.

His early years were during the great depression, but he doesn't remember that the depression had much affect on his family other than making clear the value of a dollar. His dad raised chickens and hogs on the farm, and there was always plenty of food for the family.

His love for the outdoor life continued unabated during his school days.  When he was still very  young he could frequently be found at the large home of Bruce Forward across the Highway 33 from the Massanutten Church where Stonewall Jackson spent a night during the Civil War.  Mr. Forward had many kinds of show horses such as a palomino, a Tennessee Walking Horse, and others, and he would let Bud ride them around during the shows.

In school, Bud loved sports and especially baseball. He started pitching on his school team in the seventh grade and was pitcher all during high school.  He also loved horse back riding, and would often ride in places now well settled such as around Massanetta Springs, but were then mostly rural.  His best remembered teacher during those years was his coach, Jim Moyers, who was also principal of his small Keezletown school.

When he was only about twelve years old, his grandfather Armentrout began to allow him to help in his business running the Massanutten Caverns a few miles north of Keezletown. He was allowed to be the one to pull back on the lever that would brake the wagons on which the tourists were riding as they descended the sharp hill near the entrance of the caverns. Bud remembers that a human skeleton was once found in the caverns and it proved to be that of an adult female Indian.  Bud also remembers riding at night down Boyers Road, then graveled, on the front fender of his friend's '36 Ford Coupe, shooting at rabbits that were running ahead in the glare of the headlights.

Bud graduated from high school in 1949, and enlisted for a four year hitch in the U. S. Air Force in February,1952. He began to realize how long four years could be during his basic training at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. He was sent from there to a U. S. Air Force automotive tech school in Cheyenne, Wyoming for eight months training, and then to on perform his Air Force duties at the officer survival training school at the Stead Air force Base, Reno, Nevada.  There he worked with automotive supply.

He married Betty Huffman on January 1, 1953 while in Reno, and he remembers a kind of bonus that came along with his marriage -- he got to move out of the tent where he was staying into a regular house.  After six months in Reno, he was sent to an air depot in  North Africa near Casablanca for a nine month tour of duty, and then on to France for nine more months, thus completing the required eighteen months of overseas duty. He came back to Pope Field near Fort Bragg, North Carolina for one year more of duty, thus fulfilling his four year commitment, and was released from active duty in 1956.  He never had to re-enter active duty again, but was not discharged until 1960.

Upon release from the Air Force, he worked for about two years in the chicken hatchery business in Rockingham County, and then was appointed by the governor as Chief Forestry Warden for the County of Rockingham. In this position he was responsible for law, fire, reforesting, and timber management over 145,000 acres of woodland.  He was on call seven days a week, and 24 hours a day.  He worked there for 30 years, until he was age 57.

But work was not over for Bud;  he worked an additional 22 years for Old Dominion Forestry as a private forestry consultant. His long experience in forest management was a very real asset to him as his new work consisted mainly in selecting and measuring new timber for harvesting.

He and Betty have two children, Christy Long (her husband's surname was also “Long”) and Stephen.  Christy is a nurse at the Rockingham Memorial Hospital, and Stephen lives in Richmond and works with the state's Department of Transportation.

In thinking back on his Air Force days, Bud says, “It was the best education I ever had. It was the Air Force that made me a man.”   We want to thank Bud for his long service in timber management, his good example as a family man, his service to God in the church, and his service to our nation in the U. S. Air Force.

As told to Dick Young