Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr.
Commanding Officer 22nd Infantry
1938 - November 10, 1939
As a Colonel, Simon B.
Buckner Jr., commanded the 22nd Infantry Regiment
at Ft McClellan from approximately 1938-1939.
The Official US Army Register entries for Simon B. Buckner Jr.:
Born in Kentucky July 18, 1886.
He entered the US Military
Academy on June 16, 1904. He graduated 58 out of a class of 108,
on February 14, 1908.
In his graduating year he was a Lieutenant in the Corps of Cadets in Company A. Upon graduation he was commissioned
a 2nd Lieutenant in the 9th Infantry. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on August 5, 1914. On September 1, 1915
he was transferred to the 27th Infantry. He received a promotion to Captain on May 15, 1917.
On August 5, 1917 Buckner was
offered the temporary rank of Major in the Signal Corps, which he
September 27 of that year. On January 24, 1918 he was temporarily promoted to Major of Infantry, and he vacated the
Signal Corps assignment on May 27, 1918. He held the temporary rank of Major of Infantry until August 20, 1919.
On July 1, 1920 Buckner was
promoted to the permanent rank of Major in the Regular Army. In
1924 he graduated
from the Infantry School Advanced Course, and in 1925 he was a Distinguished Graduate of the Command and
General Staff School. In 1929 he graduated from the Army War College.
On April 1, 1932 Buckner was
promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He was promoted to Colonel on
January 11, 1937.
From October 17, 1939 to May 28, 1940 he was a member of the General Staff Corps.
Buckner was promoted to
Brigadier General on September 1, 1940, and to Major General on
August 4, 1941.
On May 4, 1943 he was promoted to Lieutenant General.
He was killed in action on June 18, 1945.
On July 19, 1954 Buckner was posthumously promoted to the rank of General ( Four-Star ).
The following is the listing for Simon
B. Buckner Jr.,
in the 1908 "Howitzer" (West Point yearbook)
Buckner's early service, from 1908 to 1919, is outlined in detail in Cullum's Register of 1920:
Buckner as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 9th Infantry, ca. 1908-1909
Photo from HISTORY OF THE NINTH
U.S. INFANTRY 1799-1909
by Captain Fred. R. Brown, Adjutant, Ninth Infantry, R.R. Donnelley & Sons, Co. 1909
Buckner's entry, as a Major, in
the yearbook for the
Sketch of Simon B. Buckner Jr.
No time frame is given for the
Buckner was Commandant of
The original portrait is owned
The following passage
from a US Army publication of about 1939 shows Simon B. Buckner
in command of the 22nd Infantry.
CMTC graduation certificate signed by
Simon B. Buckner Jr., at Fort McClellan 1939,
as a Colonel and Commanding Officer of the 22nd Infantry
The following is a biography of Simon B. Buckner Jr., taken from a number of sources:
Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr. (July 18, 1886 June 18, 1945)
was an American lieutenant general
during World War II. He served in the Pacific Theater of Operations and commanded the defenses of Alaska
early in the war. After that assignment, he was promoted to command Tenth Army, which conducted
the amphibious assault (Operation Iceberg) on the Japanese island of Okinawa. He was killed during
the closing days of the Battle of Okinawa by enemy artillery fire, making him the highest-ranking American
to have been killed by enemy fire during the war, and among the highest-ranking military officers to die,
along with Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair, who was killed by friendly fire in France on July 25, 1944,
and Lt. Gen. Frank Maxwell Andrews, killed in an air crash in Iceland on May 3, 1943.
Buckner was posthumously promoted to the rank of a full four-star general on July 19, 1954
by a Special Act of Congress (Public Law 83-508). ²
Buckner was raised in
the rural hills of western Kentucky, near Munfordville, and
Virginia Military Institute. After two years of education at V.M.I., he was appointed to West Point
by President Theodore Roosevelt. During his early service, he saw duty in the continental United States,
and two tours in the Philippines. During World War I he was at Kelley Field, Texas, with a temporary
promotion to Major in the Signal Corps, supervising training in the Army's early Aviation Section.
wars, Buckner returned to West Point as an instructor
(19191923) and again as instructor
and Commandant of Cadets (19321936). Though recognized as tough and fair, his insistence on
developing cadets past conventional limits caused one parent to quip, "Buckner forgets that cadets are born,
not quarried." He was also an instructor at the General Service Schools at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas,
and was executive officer at the Army War College in Washington, D.C. ²
Buckner commanded the 22nd Infantry at Fort McClellan, during the 1938-1939 time frame.
In 1939 he was Chief of
Staff and Executive Officer of the 6th Division, as it was
and trained, as part of the build up of the US Army just prior to the Second World War.
Simon B. Buckner Jr, as a newly
promoted Brigadier General in Alaska.
This photo shows Buckner only a year or so after he commanded the 22nd Infantry.
Photo from the Freelance Work by Steve Dennis website
Prior to Pearl Harbor,
Buckner was promoted to Brigadier General and assigned as
commander of the
Army's Alaska Defense Command. While commanding all US troops in Alaska, Buckner was involved in the
defense of Dutch Harbor on the island of Unalaska, operations against the Japanese seizure of the
islands Kiska and Attu (June 1942), the Battle of Attu (Operation Landcrab, May 1943),
and the invasion of Kiska (August, 1943).
1944, Buckner was sent to Hawaii to organize the Tenth Army,
which was composed of both
Army and Marine units. The original mission of the Tenth Army was to prepare for the invasion of Taiwan;
however, this operation was canceled, and Buckner's command was instead ordered to prepare for
the Battle of Okinawa. This turned out to be the largest, slowest, and bloodiest sea-land-air battle
in American military history. ²
Buckner was the overall
commander of all US ground forces engaged in the battle of
On June 18, 1945, Buckner was on Okinawa, watching combat operations of the 8th Marine Regiment,
when he was hit by shrapnel from a Japanese 47mm explosive shell. His wounds proved to be fatal.
AMERICAN COMMANDERS in
Operation ICEBERG, the battle for Okinawa, left to right:
Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, and Lt. Gen. Simon B. Buckner Jr.
Photo from United States
Army in World War II The War in the Pacific Okinawa: The Last
by Appleman, Burns, Gugeler, and Stevens, CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY US ARMY 1948
On Okinawa, Lt. General Simon B.
Buckner Jr., (foreground, holding camera),
photographed with Major General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., Commanding General, 6th Marine Division
US Marine Corps photo
This is the last photograph taken of
LtGen Simon B. Buckner, Jr., USA, right, just before he was
killed on 18 June, 1945.
He was observing the 8th Marines in action on Okinawa for the first time since the regiment entered the lines in the drive to the south.
Note the rock and coral outcropping to his left. The shell that exploded hit that outcropping, dispersing fragments into the general,
killing him within a few minutes. The other two staff officers were not seriously hurt.
Simon B. Buckner Jr.'s decorations
Simon B. Buckner, Jr. Class of 1908
No. 4699 n 18 Jul 1886 18 Jun 1945
Killed In Action near Mezato, Okinawa, Japan ¤ Interred near Hagushi Beach, Japan
He was the only son of the Kentucky soldier whose name he bore, and of Delia Hayes Claiborne of Richmond, VA.
The Buckner home, where he was
born, was built in the early 19th Century by his grandfather.
Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr.,
was the only child of his fathers second marriage. Of his boyhood days he once wrote for an article appearing in Time.
"I went barefooted hunted, trapped, fished, swam, canoed, raised chickens, fought roosters, rode five miles daily for the mail,
trained dogs, did odd farm jobs, learned not to eat green persimmons, and occasionally walked eight mules to Munfordville
to broaden my horizon by seeing the train come in, learning the fine points of horse trading, or listening to learned legal
and political discussion on county court day."
After attending various schools
near home, he spent two years at the Virginia Military Institute
whence he received his
West Point appointment from President Theodore Roosevelt, entering 16 Jun 1904 and graduating 14 Feb 1908,
number 58 in a class finally numbering 108. He took his academic course in stride, holding his position about mid-class
with little effort. In the battalion of that day, he was a corporal, a sergeant, and finally a lieutenant. Without excelling in athletics,
he played scrub football, was a member of our indoor meet teams, and gave much time to boxing and wrestling under Tom Jenkins.
He ranked high in "dis," earning all the Christmas leaves possible under the demerit rules of that day, and had a standing date
to spend each in Washington, where he was the bright spot of every party he attended. At each annual class meeting,
he always was returned second ranking hop manager.
Upon graduation he was assigned
to the 9th Infantry. To show how earnestly he took his chosen
career, he devoted part
of his graduation leave to a trip to the Canal Zone, where the job was approaching its maximum swing. Here he stayed
with the chief engineer who was very fond of him; he hiked for miles through the Cut and over the lock sites, rode dirt trains,
and pounded jungle trails for his first taste of what moving foot troops over such ground and in such climate would mean.
Thus began the preparation for his supreme command. It might be said his whole career was ideally patterned for that climax
but it will be enough in this sketch to name the more important details. He began to know the Philippines from a tour in Cebu
during 1910-12. After various details in the U.S., which included a year as assistant superintendent of Public Buildings and
Grounds in Washington, he returned to the Philippines for another year in 1916, now with the 27th Infantry,
spent between Manila and Baguio.
While on this tour he went on
leave to marry Miss Adele Blanc of a well-known New Orleans
family, the wedding taking place
in Louisville, KY, 30 Dec 1916. Of this happy union were born three children: Simon Bolivar Buck-ner III at Louisville, KY,
18 Nov 1918; Mary Blanc Buckner at West Point, NY, 22 Aug 1922; and William Claiborne Buckner at Ft. Leaven-worth, KS,
29 Jun 1926. Simon is a veteran of WWII, having come up through the ranks and served overseas with distinction through
North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and France with the 927th Signal Battalion, attaining the rank of captain. Mary graduated from
Stanford University in December 1945. William, in the Class of '48, graduated just 104 years after that of his illustrious grandfather.
If Simon Buckner, Jr., was
disappointed to miss action in WWI, he contributed valuably to
training the more fortunate,
for at Kelly Field, TX, as major in the Aviation section of the Signal Corps, he successively commanded and put through
the traces the 5th Provisional Regiment, SC, and other units including the 1st and 3rd Training Brigades. In August 1918,
he was with the Operations section of the Air Service in Washington, becoming, in October, a student at the War College.
In May 1919, after assignment to the 83rd Infantry, came his first detail to West Point as instructor of Infantry tactics,
commanding a battalion of cadets.
After four years of this came a
detail as student at the Infantry School at Ft. Benning, followed
by CGSC at Ft. Leavenworth,
which he completed as a distinguished graduate, remaining to instruct for an additional three years. Then came another
four years at the Army War College where, after completing the one-year course, he remained as executive officer until 1932.
That year saw his return to West
Point, this time as assistant to the commandant of cadets for one
year, then as
commandant for three years until June 1936. His rule is remembered for constructive progressiveness, with a share of
severity tempered with hard, sound sense, and justice.
His regime, as commandant thus
highlighted and typified, marks him as an outstanding leader
among those to fill that
important office. To honor his service, Camp Popolopen, now the summer training camp for the cadets, has been redesigned
and named Camp Buckner.
The succeeding four years found
him on short details all over the country from Texas to
Massachusetts: as umpire
at maneuvers, taking refresher courses, organizing and training, attaining his colonelcy in January 1937. In July 1940
came his first real opportunity for important troop service when he was put at the head of the Alaskan Defense Command
at Ft. Richardson, attaining the rank of permanent brigadier general on 1 September, one of the first of his class
to wear the star with troops.
His work in Alaska was that of a
pioneer. He built roads, bases, personally tested types of
clothing, boots and
sleeping bags, and maintained high morale despite weather and terrain. Fully appreciating the value of cooperation
with the other branches of the service, he gave a fine example of teamwork with the Navy. He spent much time flying
around the Aleutian chain. He became a major general, A.U.S., on 4 Aug 1941. On 4 Jun 1942, his fliers and those of the
Navy located a fleet of Japanese carriers, cruisers, and destroyers patently bound for Dutch Harbor and drove them back,
despite fog and rain, with heavy loss and damage, thus defeating the nearest actual threat to security of the Pacific Coast
region. His was the training of the Army task force, which finally recovered Attu in May 1943. On the 4th of that month
he was promoted to lieutenant general, AU.S.
During that summer of 1943 he
made an official visit to Washington during which he was host at
class gathering held at Harvey's. We found him unchanged, in superb physical trim, boyishly jovial as ever, loving
his assignment, preaching his hobby of going all the way to instill into his troops the creed of cooperation with those
in other arms of our service. He was so taken with the Alaskan country that he bought property at Anchorage for a
permanent dwelling, and at Homer for a log cabin, planning to make the Territory his home after the war. At Homer
the American Legion Post has been named after him.
In June 1944, he was assigned to
Central Pacific Area, Ft. Shafter, Territory of Hawaii, where he
began training of units
later to constitute the Tenth Army. Here he was most exacting in the physical tests and fitness demanded of his officers
and men, and in the following silent months he was whipping his command into shape for one of the most vital campaigns
of the whole war Okinawa. How well this was done is given in words of Secretary Forestal in citation for the
Navy Department's Distinguished Service Medal, posthumous: "Charged with training and equipping the Tenth Army
for the Okinawa Campaign, LTG Buckner developed each unit to a high state of combat readiness, integrating the whole
as a formidable fighting command. Rendering invaluable assistance throughout die planning phase, he subsequently
cooperated wholeheartedly with amphibious commanders during landing operations and immediately established his
lines of supplies and communications when the beachheads were secured. Skillfully coordinating the fire power of all
branches of the armed services under his command, he boldly executed maneuvers designed to neutralize savage
Japanese resistance and despite the difficulties of extremely rugged terrain and adverse weather which frequently
delayed the movements of both men and equipment, relentlessly pressed onward toward the objective, constantly
rallying his tired, depleted troops and waging furious battle..."
In the combined operation for
which GEN Buckner commanded the Army troops, he launched the
offensive on the
Ryukyus when his 77th Division landed on Kerama Retto on 26 Mar 1945, and in three days secured all small islands
in that chain and brought Okinawa, the key island, within artillery range. Then on 1 April, the XXIV Army Corps and
III Marine Corps established beachheads along the west coast near Kadena. After a drive across the island, the latter
swung north and soon mopped up all the northern portion. The former, swinging south, ran into the stiffest, most
stubborn opposition of the Pacific War requiring all the ingenuity and leadership of the commanding general to bring
eventual success. The citation for his Distinguished Service Cross, posthumous, says: "After planning and directing
all phases of his army's activities in the Okinawa operation, GEN Buckner had forced the Japanese to the southern tip
of the island. Realizing that decisive action would undoubtedly result, he joined a forward regiment and proceeded to a
battalion observation post approximately 300 yards behind the front lines closely to supervise the action of his troops."
He had been struck by a shell
fragment. Despite the efforts of a Medical officer with him, GEN
pronounced dead ten minutes after being hit. Thus passed the officer of highest rank in the U.S. Army in this war
to lose his life in action while exercising troop command. In a matter of hours, the fighting in Okinawa was over, but it
was written he might not witness the final victory. Had he been able so to read, his course would have been no different.
He would not have complained. Through and through he was a soldier. The next day he was laid to rest beside comrades
in the cemetery of the 7th Infantry Division, near Hagushi Beach, where he had led his men ashore that Easter Sunday
there to "find a soldiers resting place beneath a soldier's blow."
Of the many traits of leadership
he displayed, mention has been made of the "get-along"
spirit with which he inculcated
his component of a mixed command. It is interesting to note the reaction of his Navy comrades. In the Alaskan days
he worked closely with Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, and of this association the admiral writes: "If the Japanese forces
penetrated to the eastward of a certain meridian, Army interests were to be considered 'paramount'. If they remained to
westward of that line, Navy interests were 'paramount'. In each case the other commander was to cooperate with
and to coordinate with, the commander having paramount interest. As all of the operations were to the westward,
the Navy was in direct command. GEN Buckner gave a full measure of cooperation. I could not have asked for
greater courtesy and consideration. We made a point of consulting each other and of keeping each other informed.
All important dispatches were discussed before sending, and they invariably ended with 'Buckner concurs' or
'Kinkaid concurs' depending upon who was the originator. When GEN Buckner was killed on Okinawa, I lost a friend
whom I had learned to admire and trust, and the armed services lost a gallant and courageous officer of high integrity."
What a pattern to lay before those engaged in the study of future joint operations!
On 19 Jun 1945, on the floor of
the Senate, this tribe was paid by Senator Chandler of Kentucky:
white-thatched apostle of the vigorous life had seen the new United States Tenth Army drive deeper and deeper into
enemy territory in Okinawa until at last he stood on the threshold of complete victory on that important battlefield.
Fate deprived him of seeing the curtain run down on one of the most important acts that foretells the fall of Japan.
He leaves behind him a heritage as rich as that received from his father. It was the will to win that characterized
Simon Bolivar Buckner as he met his death on Okinawa. A man who attacked life aggressively, he never asked the men
under his command to do a job he would not do himself."
President Truman, in citation
for award of the Purple Heart, posthumous, sets forth that
"in the unbroken line of patriots
who have dared to die that freedom might live ... he livesin a way that humbles the undertakings of most men."
His classmates and friends who
glimpsed the early signs of his promising qualities take pride in
all the words of
high praise, which acclaim their realization. And as we broadly view his whole career and personality, we may also
humbly add, as one of them suggests, those lines of Kipling: "E'en as he trod that day to God, so walked he
from his birth, in simpleness and gentleness and honour and clean mirth."
A classmate ³
Buckner's grave near Hagushi Beach,
Okinawa. He was first buried here, in the Tenth Army Cemetery on
Okinawa and later
his remains were taken back to Kentucky to lie beside his father, who was Civil War Confederate Lieutenant General
and Kentucky Governor Simon Bolivar Buckner Sr.
Photo from The Real Revo blog
The grave marker for Simon B. Buckner
Buckner is interred in the family plot at Frankfort Cemetery in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Photo by Bill Davis from the Find A Grave website
Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner
1823 - 1914
Simon Bolivar Buckner was the
father of General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr.
Buckner (senior) was a graduate of the US Military Academy (1844). He served in Mexico,
in the 6th Infantry during the Mexican-American War, and resigned from the Army in 1855.
At the beginning of the Civil War, he turned down a commission as a Brigadier General in the US Army
and accepted a commission as a Brigadier General in the Army of the Confederacy, eventually rising
to Lieutenant General. After the War he served a term as Governor of the State of Kentucky.
Troop transport named after General Simon B. Buckner Jr.
USNS General Simon B. Buckner T-AP-123
USNS General Simon B. Buckner (T-AP-123),
Previously USS Admiral E. W. Eberle (AP-123) and U.S. Army Transport General Simon B. Buckner
USS Admiral E. W. Eberle, a 9,676-ton (light
displacement) Admiral W. S. Benson-class transport built by the
Maritime Commission to its P2-SE2-R1 design,
was commissioned in January 1945 with a largely Coast Guard crew. She departed San Francisco in March with troops and supplies for the Southwest Pacific,
then moved to the Philippines where she embarked over 2,000 formerly interned civilians for repatriation to the United States. After arriving at San Pedro,
California, in early May Admiral E. W. Eberle went to the Atlantic, where in June and early July she made a crossing carrying troops from Naples, Italy
to Trinidad and another returning servicemen to the United States from Le Havre, France. In July and August the transport carried troops from Marseilles,
France to the Philippines. After upkeep at Seattle, she made three voyages from the West Coast to Japan and Korea between October 1945 and March 1946
. Admiral E. W. Eberle was decommissioned in May 1946 and transferred via the Maritime Commission to the Army.
The Army soon renamed the ship General Simon B. Buckner and operated her with a civilian crew as part of its water transportation service.
She returned to the Navy in March 1950 when most of the larger Army ships became part of the newly-created Military Sea Transportation Service.
Still civilian-manned and retaining her "General" name, the ship made numerous crossings of the Pacific in support of the Korean War. In February 1955
she departed San Francisco for New York, and during the next ten years completed over 130 Atlantic voyages between New York and Bremerhaven,
West Germany, with some stops at Southampton, England, and trips to the Mediterranean. Between August and December 1965 the Buckner twice steamed
from California to Vietnam, then returned to the East Coast and made ten more trips from New York to Bremerhaven and Southampton. She moved definitively
to the West Coast in August 1966, supporting U.S. operations in Southeast Asia until March 1970, when she was placed out of service and returned to the
Maritime Administration. Laid up during the following two decades, USNS General Simon B. Buckner was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in August 1990
and sold by the Maritime Administration in June 1997 for scrapping.
To visit a memorial page for Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., click on the following link:
Remember the Deadeyes
¹ THE DOUGHBOY 1924, Published by the
Classes of 1924,
The Infantry School, U.S. Army, Fort Benning, Georgia, 1924
³ 2008 Register of Graduates and Former Cadets
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