Historical records matching General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr.
About General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr.
General 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 US military officer to have been killed by enemy fire during World War II, and among the highest-ranking military officers to die during the war; along with Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair, who was killed by friendly fire in France on July 25, 1944, Lt. Gen. Frank Maxwell Andrews, killed in an air crash in Iceland on May 3, 1943, Rear Admirals Daniel Callaghan and Norman Scott, both of whom were killed in action during the Battle of Friday the 13th, a surface action at Guadalcanal, on November 13, 1942, and Major General Maurice Rose, killed in action on March 31, 1945 while leading the 3d Armored division into the Rhineland. 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)
His father was Confederate General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr., who surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Fort Donelson and was Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky 1887-1891.
Buckner was raised in the rural hills of western Kentucky near Munfordville, and attended Virginia Military Institute. He later won an appointment to West Point (class of 1908) from President Theodore Roosevelt. He served two tours of duty in the Philippines. During World War I, he served as a temporary major, drilling discipline into budding aviators.
 Interwar periodBetween the wars, Buckner returned to West Point as an instructor (1919–1923) and again as instructor and Commandant of Cadets (1932–1936). 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.
Prior to Pearl Harbor, Buckner was promoted to Brigadier General and assigned to fortify and protect Alaska as commander of the Army's Alaska Defense Command. Though comparatively quiet, there was some action with the attack on Dutch Harbor (3–5 June 1942), the Japanese seizure of the islands Kiska and Attu (June 1942), Battle of Attu (Operation Landcrab, May 1943), and "invasion" of Kiska (August, 1943) (see Aleutian Islands campaign).
Battle of Okinawa
In July 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. According to an eyewitness account, on June 18, 1945, Buckner was standing in his moving recon vehicle and watching combat operations of the 8th Marine Regiment when he was hit by fragmentation from a Japanese 47mm artillery shell and mortally wounded. Colonel Clarence R. Wallace and PFC Harry M. Sarkisian were at his side when he died. He was succeeded in command by Marine General Roy Geiger. Total American deaths during the battle of Okinawa were 12,513.
Buckner is interred in the family plot at Frankfort Cemetery in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Named in honor of Buckner:
Fort Buckner, an Army sub-post of the Marine Corps' Camp Foster on Okinawa, is home to the 58th Signal Battalion and includes a small memorial to its namesake.
Nakagusuku Bay on the East side of Okinawa was briefly nicknamed "Buckner Bay" in the 1940s.
West Point's Camp Buckner, where yearlings (incoming sophomores) go through Cadet Field Training (CFT).
Several places built in Alaska during Cold War-related military construction, including:
Buckner Gymnasium (also Fieldhouse and Physical Fitness Center) at Fort Richardson (now part of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson) in Anchorage, Alaska, a post which the general established during World War II.
The Buckner Building in Whittier, Alaska, once the largest building in Alaska by square footage.