NO. 17907 • 14 September 1927 - 26 August 1985
Died in Lexington, KY
Interred in Lexington, KY
ALTHOUGH ONLY distantly related to the "Buckners" of Army fame, Garrett Davis Buckner, Jr. - also known as "Buddy," "Dave," or "Buck' -- entered West Point on 1 July 1946, with the dedication, enthusiasm and character such a lineage would be proud of. Buck's Army career of 28 years was marked by a continuation of such attributes, and still others, such as courage, sincerity, and loyalty. Buck truly knew that to have friends, you needed first to be a friend.
A product of Kentucky and the son of Dr. and Mrs. G. D. Buckner, Buck was born in Lexington. At University High and Henry Clay High School in Lexington and, later, at Woodberry Forest in Virginia, Buck excelled in all sports. He attended the USMA Preparatory School at Amherst, where he diligently studied to qualify for an appointment to West Point. Determination got Buck into USMA, and his dedication - along with Ding Price's tutoring - kept him there until he was commissioned into the Infantry in 1950.
At West Point, Buck was very active in the Chess, Ski, French, and Skeet Clubs. However, his great love was leadership as a cadet lieutenant and running as a member of the "A" Squad in both cross-country and track & field. Maintaining his focus, however, Buck dropped his athletic endeavors in his First Class year to concentrate on his studies.
On 14 July 1950, 2LT G. D. Buckner, Jr. married Joan Cowen, his First Class OAO. They remained married for 22 years and continued a deep friendship until Buck’s death. Together, they had three children: G. D. Buckner III; Alice C. Buckner; and Claiborne C. Buckner.
Buck's Army career was one of breadth and depth, derived from his leadership and athletic prowess. From an initial assignment with the 4th Infantry in Alaska, and, in 1959. to the Air Force Academy as Chief of Instruction in Physical Education, Buck served around the world in various command positions, culminating as an Infantry battalion commander and deputy brigade commander in Viet Nam. Other stops along the way included Ft. Benning, Ft. Lee, Ft. Campbell, the Pentagon, Korea, and Germany.
Buck earned an MBA from George Washington University in Washington, DC. Indeed, as a testimony to the totalness of Buck's service, one need look no farther than his many awards, including the four Legions of Merit, two Bronze Stars, nine Air Medals, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Viet Nam Cross of Gallantry, Master Parachutist Wings, and the Combat Infantryman’s badge.
Following his tour of duty in Vietnam, Buck spent nine years in Army advisory and planning activities, wherein his contributions to long-term strategy and planning were recognized by the award of two of his four Legions of Merit. Such responsibilities included Chief of the Long Range Division in the Combat Development Command and Chief of the Infantry Team in U. S. Army Readiness Region VI. Buck possessed remarkable analytical and planning abilities.
In 1978, Buck retired and returned to his beloved family home - Rose Hill - in Lexington, that, under his direction, was restored and designated a historical landmark. Lung cancer overtook Buck’s retirement, and he died in Lexington in 1985, just short of his 58th birthday. His survivors include his ex-wife, Joan Buckner; son, Clay Buckner: daughter, Alice Buckner Kennedy; sister and brother-in law, Sally and COL (Ret.) R. E. Morrison '44; and three grandchildren. A second son, Garrett Davis Buckner III, predeceased him in 1980 in an automobile accident.
Buck possessed a boyish grin, an enthusiastic smile, red hair, freckles, and prankish tendencies. He appeared as a "Huck Finn in a cadet uniform." However, beneath these loveable and youthful mannerisms was a very strong and genuine man. To many, particularily his West Point "wives," Buck was a sincere friend.
Well done, Buck. We expected no less. We miss you!
- Paul Ache and Ding Price, roommates