NO. 17677 • 21 December 1927 – 29 October 1951
Killed in Action October 29, 1951 in Korea, aged 23 Years.
The tense, anxious days of waiting for Bud's next letter were over. The dreadful message came twenty four days from the date he had last written, October 17th.
Bud had been so faithful writing to us every week since his arrival in Korea, the first week of June 1951. He had written three or four letters each week. He treated the dangers of his being a forward observer very casually, and stressed the amusing little incidents that occurred among the men, and the beauty of a Korean sunset. . . Our local newspaper carried his picture with an account of his life and activities at school, on Monday, November 12. Then on Thursday, December 13, the following appeared in the newspaper: "Lt. W. T. Bonfoey Rites Tuesday. Memorial services for First Lt. Warner T. Bonfoey, Jr., 23, killed in action in Korea October 29th will be at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the House of Hope Presbyterian Church, Summit and Avon.
"Born December 21, 1927 in St. Louis, Lt. Bonfoey came to St. Paul as a child with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Warner T. Bonfoey, 2146 Sargent Avenue. He was the only child. Lt. Bonfoey was graduuted from St. Paul Academy in 1946. He played on the academy football, hockey and baseball teams. He entered West Point, played hockey for four years, received three letters on the varsity squad, and stood above average in scholastic work. He was graduated with a bachelor of science degree. Assigned to Fort Bliss, Texas, he was ordered to Korea in April 1951, and was assigned to the First Cavalry Division, 61st Field Artillery Battalion as forward observer and for patrol work with the Infantry. He also had duty with the Republic of Korea troops and a company of U.S. armored tanks. He was wounded by an enemy grenade while on outpost duty for his own battalion and died before aid could reach him."
Bud's childhood was an unusually happy one. Our home movies show a lively, joyous little golden haired boy with laughing blue eyes. He was so loved - the joy and delight not only of his parents but of his grandparents, who adored him.
Of the many, many letters of tribute to Bud, the following seem to express the overwhelming grief and shock his loss meant. . .
"Of all the boys that I have had in the last forty-five years, Bud was one of the very rarest. His young friends and all of us older people felt just the same way about him - we loved him. It seemed as if when he was around, the sun was shining."
-John de Quedville Briggs, Rtd. Headmaster, St. Paul Academy.
"On Monday I announced it to the school as best I could, telling them that the flag would fly at half-mast In Bud's memory. The burden of my brief remarks was that Bud was one of the finest boys ever to graduate from this school - or any school. If there is any comfort to be had, perhaps it comes from our good fortune in havlng known and lived with, however briefly, a boy of Bud’s disposition and calibre. Certainly the Academy is a better school for his having been here."
-Edward M. Read, Headmaster, St. Paul Academy.
"My heart is at half-mast, just like the flag at the Academy. You have lost your dearest hope. We have lost the boy of whom we have been most proud for all those qualities that make a charming boy, a young man of true nobility.
Wherever the boys today and tomorrow are trying to do their best in all humility, with an untaltering step in spite of trials and difficulties, the spirit of Bud Bonfoey will be walking right along beside them to cheer them on and lend a helping hand."
-Bob Blampied, Master of French, St. Paul Academy.
The following appeared in the December issue of the St. Paul Academy paper, the Now and Then:
"Warner T. Bonfoey, Jr.
'Buddy' Bonfoey came up through the Junior School, graduated with the versatile and talented Class of 1946, and entered West Point. He graduated from the Military Academy in 1950, a Second Lieutenant, and was promoted to First Lieutenant this fall. The shocking news has come to us that he was killed in action in Korea on October 29th.
"In the Academy, Buddy made a fine scholastic record, and played on all three major teams; he played Plebe and Varsity Hockey at West Point. But it was neither his high scholarship nor his athletic prowess that made him one of the best loved boys ever to attend the Academy. When he was in the Prep Form, one of his small classmates was heard to remark that Buddy 'had the best disposition of anyone in the class'. He might truthfully have said 'anyone in the world'. He took everything in stride, unperturbed, with a smile. and did his job, as he must have done it to the end. When I visited him at West Point, on a miserable, cold, dark winter day, most of the cadets there looked strained, unhappy and depressed, When Buddy appeared to have dinner with me at the Hotel Thayer, it was as if the sun had burst through the clouds. Just to know him made the grim world a happier place. That combination of strength with sweetness and gentleness is a rare and precious thing.
"The English poet Henry Newbolt, in a poem 'Clifton Chapel', refers to a memorial tablet on the chapel wall, in that old English school:
"'Qui procul hine' the legend's writ- The frontier grave is far away
"Qui ante diem perlit: Sed miles, sed pro Patria"
'Who died In a far off land, before his time, but as a soldier should, in the service of his Country.' No brass tablet Is needed to keep alive the memory of Buddy Bonfoey. He will live and be loved forever in the hearts of those whose lives he touched."
-John de Quedville Briggs.
There has been a scholarship set up at the St. Paul Academy in memory of Bud, and an Inter-city Hockey trophy, called "The Bonfoey Hockey Trophy".
From the boys he had grown up with:
"I cannot express to you how I share your grief. Bud was such a grand friend and such a wonderful boy, and I always admired him to the utmost. His loss is a shock that will stay with me as long as I live."
"It was with a great feeling of shock that I just heard of the loss of Buddy. He had always been one of the best friends that I ever made at school and on all counts was certainly one of the finest and most respected boys that St. Paul Academy ever turned out. You can take great pride In Buddy's entire life, as I and his friends can feel proud that we just knew such an outstanding person."
"The news about Bud left me with a feeling I shall never forget. It’s still difficult for me to believe that it's all actually true.
"Bud was one of the finest men I have ever known. We spent some wonderful times together; from guarding the defensive left flank of the Academy (St. Paul) team to double dating on Saturday nights. I shall always consider him among the very best of my friends. He was liked by everyone. Bud was just that kind of a guy. His pleasant personality, his good natured disposition, his conscientious way of accomplishing every task, are just a few of the many qualities about him which appealed to everyone with whom he came in contact. His memory will dwell in all of our hearts forever."
From West Point classmates:
"Most of my contacts with Bud were with the hockey team. I shall never forget them. The assist he made in scoring the winning goal over Yale in 1948-49, the winning goal over Royal Military College in '49. Every now and then he would stop in the room for hockey business or to see Mike. Believe me, it was fun, every minute of it. It was a pleasure to have known Bud. We shall all miss him very much."
-(Lt.) Richard Trefry.
"I was very close to Bud from the time we both reported for duty at Ft. Bliss in August 1950 until April 1951 when he left for Korea. We were roommates from the time Tony (Lt.) de Jenuary married until April when Bud left. I realize that nothing I can say will help to ease your grief of losing him. Bud was undoubtedly the most clean-cut boy I've ever known in my life and as devoted a friend as anyone could ask for. His whole outlook on life was so wholesome, and he saw so little evil in both people and environment around him, that I often felt that I and others were cheating ourselves inasmuch as we couldn't appreciate life as completely as he did. So I hope and pray that, despite the fact that his life was cut so short, he gained something from life that I shall never be able to gain as long as I may live.
"If I told you I felt some of your grief, it would probably sound like a meaningless platitude, but I can assure you I feel his death deeply. I only wish I could make you understand how much he was loved by all who came in contact with him."
- (Lt.) Bill Jones. (Lt. Jones (Wm. R. D.) was Bud's Military Escort when Bud was laid to rest at West Point.)
"It was a great shock to me to read in the Army-Navy Journal of Bud’s death. Although my association with Bud lasted only a few months, we were very close friends and I was anxiously looking forward to the day when I might be stationed with him again.
"Bud, with his happy outlook on life, was the type who made friends easily and then kept them due to his cheerful spirit, kindness, unselfishness and other desirable traits of character. It is these things and many other attributes that are hard to describe which cause myself and his other associates to feel that we have lost a fine friend.
"While my connections with Bud have always been on an off-duty status, I do know that he established an outstanding record as an officer at Fort Bliss and that, although only a second lieutenant, was highly respected by the other officers and men of his battalion. With Bud's courage and devotion to duty I am confident that his superior record was continued in Korea. He definitely had a promising career ahead of him, and the Army has suffered an irreplaceable loss.
"It seems such a short time ago that I received a letter from Bud saying that he had received his overseas orders that very day. It is hard to believe that he is gone. Knowing how much Bud thought of his parents, I know that his loss is quite a blow to you. Yet I do want you to know that your loss is shared by many people upon whom Bud made a lasting Impression."
-Richard C. Tuck (Capt.), U.S.M.A. '46
"I enjoyed so much my last visit with Bud at El Paso. I shall always remember the sparkle in his bright eyes, his winning smile and the feeling I had while I was with him and since, that here was a young man destined for great things if he could be spared the scars of war. I am sure I knew Bud much better than he realized. I was deeply interested in him and his future. I admired his intellect, his courage and his manliness. I have often thought how happy I would have been had I the good fortune to have had a son like your Bud.
I know how proud both of you have been of him, and with such right to have been proud. He has now given his life on the battlefield for us all. May I be so bold to hope that in the knowledge that you have of his devotion to his country in making the supreme sacrifice, will in some measure allay your grief on his passing."
-James E. Kelley.
The usual letters of sympathy came from the General, and Bud's Commanding Officer;
"I cannot begin to tell you how deeply sorry I am to hear of Bud's death. It was a shock to me, as well as to my classmates. General Ridgway has asked me to convey to you as much information as I can concerning Bud.
"Here is the exact account of Bud's death extracted from the Adjutant General Casualty Branch here In Tokyo, Japan, as received from Bud's outfit:
"Bud was forward observer on hill of unnown number near Yanjimal, when an incoming rifle grenade landed ten feet from Bud; flying shrapnel hit him in the lower legs, and from loss of blood and shock Bud died.
"I believe Bud was the most congenial, affable person I have ever come in contact with. Never once did Bud pass a disparagIng remark to or of anyone. I know that consolation or sympathy could never bring Bud back, but I do want you to know that I thought a great deal of him."
-Arnold A. Galiffa (1st Lt.)
From Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, D. C., came the following:
"I learned a few days ago, of the loss of your son. It came as a terrible shock. Bud and I met that first day of July, 1946, as we were about the same height. We were close friends for the following four years. This past October we met unexpectedly in Korea. Our forward observer had broken down with battlefield fatigue. Bud had volunteered to take his place. He joined us one evening and aided us considerably in saving another company and a part of our company with covering artillery fire. This job was typical of Bud’s fine work while he worked with my company.
"On October l7th I was hit, with our objective in sight. I was happy to think that Bud had come through all right. He had the respect of all of us who worked with him. Then I read the bad news in Assembly.
"I saw your son when the going was tough - and he had in his constitution what you will find in the makings of a fine officer and gentleman. I know I speak for all his classmates when I say we are proud to have known him."
-Joseph T. Griffin, Jr. (Lt.).
A letter from young Sgt. Steve Kolstad, who was constantly and closely associated with Bud during June through part of October, on observation duty, states; "I have recelved a letter from Paul Welsh (radio operator on duty near the front the day Bud was killed). As you can see Bud was liked by everyone. I am proud to say that I served with him in Korea".
At the Memorial Service, our minister. Dr. Irving West, spoke simply and factually of Bud's life.
"Bud was one of the first acolytes of this church. He was always the finest example of young Christian manhood in the life of the church and community. Bud graduated from the St. Paul Academy in 1946, then he went into West Point, where he received his commission in 1950. Always his Christian faith shone from his life. This was very evident during his service in the Armed Forces. Words, always so feeble at best, can never convey the grace and strength and beauty of his life. Like Cyrano de Bergerac, he has crossed over with his 'white plume unsullied'.
"'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."'
A few days after the bright cold day of the Memorial Service, came the following:
"I can think of no surer evidence that no life is incomplete than that great church filled with people who came - both to share your sorrow and to show reverence to the glory of your son's sacrifice. So I shall never again hear 'Glory, Glory, Hallelujiah' that I do not think of that beautiful boy of yours and be grateful to him."
-Elizabeth Kennedy (Mrs. Walter) and Walter Kennedy.
On Monday morning, March third, Bud was laid to rest In the cemetery at West Point. Chaplain Pulley read the simple sermon, as cadets from Bud's Company L-2 acted as guards of honor, and Lt. Wm. R. D. Jones was present as Bud's Military Escort. The dark gray day and the sad tones of the muffled drums seemed to reflect the deep grief In our hearts.
We are thankful to have had Bud with us for the twenty-three years, and we shall think of him as just "being away."
- His Parents