Simon Buckner

(Deb) -SINGING- Buffalo Bill…Buffalo Bill…(Frank) And we’re back again. So, you brought toys again today. (Deb) I did. And you don’t know how hard I have to work to keep my Grandsons from opening this? So, this is my Buffalo Bill action figure. Yes, -SINGING-Buffalo Bill, Buffalo Bill. Never missed and he never will. Not in my book anyway. So my friend Deb Buckner sent me that for my birthday a couple years ago. And my friend Deb portrays Libbie Custer and it just happens that my birthday is the same day at Libbie Custer’s. And it’s the same day as Josephine Earp, who was the wife of Wyatt Earp. So yea, I share my birthday, April 8th, mark your calendars…still time to get things in the mail… I share my birthday with two really incredibly interesting women from the West. So, I guess there’s no mistaking I’d be interested in the West. (Frank) Buffalo Bill was an interesting character. He was full of bluster and everything else. But at least he brought the Old West to a lot of the world. (Deb) You know he was full of bluster. I was thinking about this the other day. It’s like, remember that Jack Palance ad where, what was it confidence, or something, sexy or arrogance. He said it’s not arrogance if you can back it up. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) And that was Buffalo Bill. He was full of bluster, but he could back it up. So Deb, being a good friend and knowing how I love Buffalo Bill sent me that. But the next segment is not about Bill, it’s about Deb’s family who, her husband’s family actually, who is just as interesting. It’s a really incredible story with connections to American history for way more than 150 years. It’s a pretty incredible story with some pretty incredible Kansas connections. Sitting on my desk is a Buffalo Bill action figure, a gift from my friend Deb Buckner of Kansas City. Like so many of my friends, history brought Deb and me together. She portrays Libbie Custer. But unlike most folks, Deb and her husband Chip come from a very historic family themselves. Chip’s great granddad was Confederate general and Kentucky governor Simon Bolivar Buckner. Chip’s grandfather was Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., a lieutenant general in the United States Army during World War II, and that’s the story we want to share today. Buckner attended the Virginia Military Institute and was appointed to West Point by President Theodore Roosevelt. He served in the Pacific Theater of Operations and commanded the defenses of Alaska early in the war. Following that assignment, he was promoted to command the 10th Army, which conducted the amphibious assault on the Japanese island of Okinawa on April 1, 1945. He was killed during the closing days of the battle by enemy fire, making him the highest-ranking U.S. military officer to have been lost to enemy fire during World War II. Buckner, Lesley J. McNair, Frank Maxwell Andrews, and Millard Harmon, all lieutenant generals at the time of their deaths, were the highest-ranking Americans to be killed in World War II. Buckner and McNair were posthumously promoted to the rank of four-star general on July 19, 1954 by a Special Act of Congress. Buckner’s death was one of 12,513 American deaths during the Battle of Okinawa. The Buckner family has not only served America, but is active in preserving its history, and their family history. One of Buckner’s assignments was at Fort Leavenworth, and it was there his son Bill, Chip’s dad, was born and they have remained connected to Kansas ever since. I am reminded of that legacy every time I look at that Buffalo Bill action figure.

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