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In honor of Lt. Buck Compton, 1921-2012

Feb 27, 2012 // By Marcus Brotherton

In great sadness and tribute I write to tell of the passing late evening February 25, 2012, of Lt. Lynn “Buck” Davis Compton, one of the original Band of Brothers.

Buck was a true patriot, a valiant soldier in battle, a devoted public servant, and an honorable and caring family man.

He died peacefully and comfortably at his home in Burlington, Washington. He was 90.

Buck was born in Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve, 1921. He was named after his grandfather, Lyndley, but gave himself the nickname “Buck” in grammar school, taking a cue from a star catcher for the Angels, “Truck” Hannah.

During the Depression, Buck worked in the movies as a child actor, appearing in several films as an extra. Actor Mickey Rooney was a childhood friend.

In college, Buck was a two-sport athlete for UCLA, playing both football and baseball and excelling in both. In football, he played in the 1943 Rosebowl. In baseball, the legendary Jackie Robinson was a teammate.

When World War II broke out, Buck became an officer with the famed Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne, the elite group of paratroopers known as the Band of Brothers. He parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, fought valiantly in Operation-Market in Holland where he was wounded, and braved the snow and ice of the battle of Bastogne. He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during the assault on Brecourt Manor.

After the war Buck became a detective, an attorney, and later a judge. While an attorney, he successfully prosecuted Sirhan Sirhan for the murder of Bobby Kennedy.

Actor Neal McDonough portrayed Buck Compton in the HBO production of Band of Brothers. Neal and Buck stayed close friends ever after.

Buck was active long after retirement. In later years he hosted a radio commentary show and volunteered for the Skagit County Republican Party Headquarters. Four mornings each week he met for breakfast with other veterans for coffee. Buck spoke and travelled extensively, and was a staunch supporter of today’s troops.

In later years, through the influence of attorney Vance Day, Buck professed a faith in Jesus Christ. Buck’s family is confident he is in heaven today.

Buck was preceded in death by his parents and by wife Donna. He is survived by his daughters, Tracy and Syndee, his grandchildren Samantha, Lyndsie, Shannon, and Hayley, and by his beloved dog, Ernie. Buck wrote in the dedication to his memoir that his family was “the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”

Two memorial services are being planned—a smaller one for the immediate family, and a larger one for the public. Dates will be announced soon.

On a personal note, I was so greatly honored to have met this man, to speak with him on many occasions, to have participated in the writing of his book, and to travel with him to several shows and signings around the country.

I can’t say enough good things about him.

It hasn’t sunk in yet that his physical life is passed.

This picture of Buck and me was taken by George Luz Jr. just a few weeks back, early January, at Buck’s 90th birthday party. It was at the end of the party, and Buck and I shared a few quiet moments in the lobby of the building. We didn’t talk much. He was tired then. But we just sat together, and that spoke volumes to me.

I deeply miss this man who came to mean so much to me.

Buck Compton–simply put, you were the greatest.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.
Psalm 23: 6
  • Tobias (GER)

    I just read about the sad news on facebook and I really hoped for a blog entry here. So I checked your blog right away…and here it is.
    Buck you will never be forgotten! I know he is in heaven now, cause that is the place where men like Buck will be after life. Thanks to reading the book about him written with help of you marcus, I know quite much about the man Buck was.
    Unfortunately I never had the chance meeting him.
    Marcus, I would like to start a flowers fund here. I guess you will be at one of his two memorial services, maybe you can place some flowers there. I would like to send you some money for it. and maybe some other want too. If we manage to collect enough money we could write some nice words on the flower bandarole.
    What do you think?
    T

  • Tony Coulter

    Dear Marcus,
    The world is a better place for having Buck for 90 years . His contributions to society and the lives he influenced will keep his name alive forever. Buck’s example and lessons will be passed on by all he touched .
    You can never repay a person’s kindness, you can only pass it on!
    Thank you Buck for the gifts you gave us.

  • Marcus

    Tobi, I think the flowers would be a very kind gesture. Thank you.

  • Marcus,

    Thank you for giving all of us the opportunity to get to know Mr. Compton through the book about his life that you created with him. Anyone who reads the book will be moved and his engaging and brave spirit will live on because of it. It is indeed sad that he is gone. But, aren’t we fortunate that such an outstanding person graced this earth for 90 years? I know he will be missed.

  • Anonymous

    Marcus,

    As has been said we were blessed to have Buck with us for so many years, to have men like him who were prepared to serve against the greatest evil ever known and thanks to men like him to be able to enjoy the freedoms that we sometimes take for granted.

    God Bless you Buck, may you Rest In Peace.

    Pádraig MacGealbhain.

  • Gerard Doyle

    Marcus

    Buck’s story will be heard by so many thanks to your writing.

    RIP Buck with the other Screaming Eagles who have gone before you.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not even sure what a guy like myself can even say…

    RIP Buck and thanks for the infinite inspiration.

    I’m with Tobias: let’s get a paypal flower fund going.

  • Kris

    Your tribute is absolutely fantastic and moving. He was in fact a real american and true insperation to us all. I pray that his family and friends will find comfort knowing he is with his men and his family now and he will be watching from above. Another Eagle in the sky, to safe guard us from above.

    Well done Marcus

    RIP Buck

  • Anonymous

    Marcus,
    My son and I were blessed to have been with Buck (and Don Malarkey) several years ago on a Band of Brothers tour, starting in England and ending at the Eagles Nest…..tracing the route the Screaming Eagles took through Europe after June 6, 1944. What a man, and I always thought of him as a “Gentle Giant”, who did not consider himself a hero, but simply one who did “his part” in the war effort. As you know, America’s best from WWII are rapidly leaving this earth but I am greatly heartened by the fact that Buck was a Christian, and that my son and I will see him again one day. Thank you again for sharing all that you have done and may God bless the Compton family as they go through this sad time. Billy Chorey

  • Tobias (GER)

    Hi Marcus, let us know where to send the money for flowers. Would be very kind of you to care about the flower project. Any guess how we can reach more people? I can post on facebook and try to gather some people. What do you think?

  • Marcus

    Hi Tobi, you could handle it a couple ways.

    The best would be to purchase flowers online from a national company like http://www.proflowers.com or http://www.FTD.com and have them shipped to Tracy Compton’s. I’ll e-mail you the address.

    If you wanted to make this more of a “movement,” rather than flowers, you could gather money and send it in Buck’s honor to a non-profit organization that championed views that Buck espoused. The family hasn’t designated a specific charity, but I’m pretty sure that Buck supported the Boy Scouts.

    May I also suggest raising funds in Buck’s name for the WWII Foundation. This is the nonprofit media company run by Tim Gray, whom you might know. The company produces documentaries about WWII and donates them to various sources such as libraries and schools. Buck has been featured in several of their productions, and they’re also raising money for the Major Dick Winters memorial.

    http://wwiifoundation.org/

  • Anonymous

    I know I speak for many Paratroopers today when I say we took to the sky trying to catch up to guys like this. The story of his life and achievements will never be told often enough.

  • Yuri

    Wonderful blog Marcus. Your book gave us a look inside Buck’s life, and our admiration for him grew even more after reading all the things he did during and after the war. His actions for my freedom will never be forgotten. So long Buck. I salute you!

  • Marcus, thank you for your tribute to Buck, and thank you for all you’ve done through the years to get his (and others) stories told. -Jeff Otten

  • Never forget!!!!

  • He died peacefully and comfortably at his home in Burlington, Washington. He was 90. I am sad that he passed but glad he lived a long life.

  • The Band of Brothers grow ever smaller with the passing of this great man. However he is now reunited with so many of his friends and comrades. Without these great men and what they did in the 2nd World War, we would not live with the freedom we all have today.

  • Anonymous

    I just finished the book(im thirteen) and felt like I knew him my whole life. The world is a better place because of his controbution in world war 2. I was gonna ask him for an autograph when my teacher told me he had died.

  • Anonymous

    please tell me if any one of Easy Company is still here and if they have blogs. I would love to talk to them. Goalex1998@live.com

  • Marcus

    Alex, yes, about 20 +/- Easy Company men are still alive.

    It’s hard to connect with them directly, but two good places to start (or at least connect with like-minded individuals) are:

    http://www.menofeasycompany.com

    and the forum section at:

    http://www.majordickwinters.com

    best to you
    –MB

  • Anonymous

    Marcus, Can you tell me where he’s buried id kinda like to say a few words. Email me at goalex1998@live.com

    Alex

  • Marcus

    Alex, thanks for wanting to honor Mr. Compton. He died in his hometown of Burlington, Washington, and was cremated.

  • Anonymous

    As so often happens in life, we learn about important events late. I went looking for a way to post my thoughts about D-Day after returning from a trip to Normandy and just found out the sad news about Mr. Compton. Seeing the preparations in all the towns for the 68th anniversary lets me know that the effort and sacrifice of these brave Americans has not been forgotten by the French. We cannot let younger Americans forget either.

  • Anonymous

    I finished Buck’s book this evening. I have read almost everything that has been published on Easy Company, 506th PIR.

    I met Buck Compton and Don Malarkey in Washington, DC in 2005 and spent a few hours listening to them. It was a very memorable time.

    I was able to attend Dick Winter’s public memorial last year and saw Buck there but didn’t get a chance to speak to him as he was busy and I didn’t want to intrude.

    I met a lot of veterans when I was a boy, and I never even knew most of them were veterans because, like Buck, they didn’t talk about the war. But these men were inspiring to me and helped shape the future of the world.

    We owe them a great debt. All too often they downplay their role and sacrifices for our liberty. But I have lived in the former Soviet Union, and I have been to Dachau and I know what they saved us from. And I appreciate what they have done for me and my children.

  • Mr. Compton. Thank you for everything and especially for you book.

  • Scott M Sykes

    Blessed be the Airborne! Got their wings before the final call home!

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HI, I'M MARCUS BROTHERTON,

the bestselling author or coauthor of more than 25 books. Welcome to my blog. Thoreau pointed out how too many people lead lives of quiet desperation. Their lives are bland and meaningless, or they make choices that trap them in despair and darkness. By contrast, I want to help people lead lives of excellence. Meet here regularly for powerful stories and insight into how to live and lead well.