Simon Buckner

Simon Buckner

Simon Buckner was born in Munfordville, Kentucky, on 16th July, 1886. He attended West Point Military Academyand graduated in 1908. Commissioned in the infantry he joined the USA Air Service in 1917. However, he left the following year without seeing action in the First World War.

Buckner returned to West Point and worked in its tactical department before becoming commander of cadets (1933-36). A strict disciplinarian, he was known to confiscate after-shave lotions from cadets with the words: "If you're going to be a man, you've got to smell like a man."

In July 1940 Buckner was promoted to brigadier general and sent to Alaska. After directing the defence of the region for 15 months he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and transferred to 10th Army Headquarters in Hawaii.

In April, 1945, Buckner was given command of the invasion of Okinawa. On the first day 60,000 troops were put ashore against little opposition at Haguushi. The following day two airfields were captured by the Americans. However when the soldiers reached Shuri they came under heavy fire and suffered heavy casualties.

Reinforced by the 3rd Amphibious Corps and the 6th Marine Division the Americans were able to repel a ferocious counter-attack by General Mitsuru Ushijima on 4th May. The United States Army gradually gained control of the island but on 18th June 1945, Buckner was mortally wounded by artillery fire while observing an attack by the 8th Marine Regiment. Simon Buckner was the highest ranking American field commander killed during the Second World War.