18.07.

1886: The Highest-Ranking U.S. Officer Killed in World War II

1886: The Highest-Ranking U.S. Officer Killed in World War II
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 18 July 1886
  • On this day, on Okinawa, General Buckner came to inspect the forward observation posts of his army. He drove in a jeep which was flying its standard three-star flag.

On this day General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., who was the highest ranking U.S. officer killed in action during World War II, was born. Specifically, General Buckner was a three-star general, the same rank the famous General George S. Patton held until April of that year.

At the time of death, General Buckner commanded the 10th Army on Okinawa, with about 180,000 men in full composition (many of whom were killed). On this day, on Okinawa, General Buckner came to inspect the forward observation posts of his army. He drove in a jeep which was flying its standard three-star flag. His soldiers really didn’t like such visits because general’s presence often attracted enemy fire.

To make matters worse, Buckner came to visit his soldiers wearing his steel helmet with three general’s stars. The Marines stationed nearby sent a message to the visited soldiers that general’s helmet with stars is clearly visible form their position, which was an obvious danger. Follwoing this tip, general replaced his helmet with an unmarked one, but it was already too late. An enemy artillery projectile struck near the general and he was badly wounded in the chest. He died on the operating table after an unsuccessful attempt to save his life.

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