R.I.P., Buck Compton

We expect much of our heroes, but living forever is not one of them:

Lynn D. “Buck” Compton, an Army paratrooper whose World War II service was portrayed in the book and HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers” and who later as a prosecutor secured a conviction for Robert F. Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan, died Feb. 26 at his home in Burlington, Wash. He was 90.

He had complications from a heart attack, said his daughter Syndee Compton. Mr. Compton retired in 1990 as a judge on the California Courts of Appeal.

Mr. Compton fought in some of the war’s fiercest battles as a first lieutenant with E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. The soldiers, collectively known as Easy Company, participated in the June 6, 1944, invasion of Normandy, parachuted into Holland for the disastrous Operation Market Garden and fought through frostbite and German artillery in the Battle of the Bulge.

I have mentioned before that Band Of Brothers, along with Ken Burns’ The Civil War, is the gold standard for TV fare. Easy Co’s exploits came to life with Stephen Ambrose, but the HBO special gave them all a face.

Buck Compton was one of my favorite’s in the series, not only was he an absolute stud but a great leader of men. If you read about the Battle of the Bulge, the stuff that those men endeared, the coldest winter in 70 years, little food/ammo/winter clothing and facing the last push by a desperate German army, how any of them came out without some emotional/psychological damage is a miracle. The episode where Buck cracks, seeing his platoon ripped to shreds in front of him, was probably my favorite, highlighting not only the lesson that any man can only take so much before breaking, and the those around him that did not think less of him but thought ,”only for the grace of God, go I”.

Toward the end of his career, Mr. Compton became a forceful advocate for patients in “right-to-die” cases.

“If there is ever a time when we ought to be able to get the ‘government off our backs,’ ” Mr. Compton wrote, “it is when we face death — either by choice or otherwise.”

Amen to that, the indignity of having to suffer pain and to prolong an existence against your will, the epitome of the nanny state thinking it knows better then you do.

The whole article is a good read.

Capt. Winters died last year, and more than a thousand WW2 vets die everyday. The greatest generation should never be forgotten.

Comments are closed.

  1. davidst

    That’s awesome. I need to finish reading band of brothers. I’ve watched the series a few times, but there’s more info in the books of course.

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  2. hist_ed

    Despite the disdain of academic hsitorians, Ambrose is a great writer. I am almost through Undaunted Courage and have a few more of his on the shelf on deck.

    The big time University professors just hate anyone who outsells them. Manchester, Tuchman and Ambrose all get flack from academics who write dry door stops that no one reads.

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  3. hist_ed

    Don’t get me started on the movies. I tell my students that while 300 kinda sorta got the feel of things right, no sane man goes into battle wearing a speedo. Troy-Jesus what a mess. One of the greatest stories in history, but, where were the gods? The gods using the humans was central to Homer, couldn’t we have had a little Athena-Maybe Uma Thurman?

    Honestly, I think I do well in differentiating good movies from good history but I am overjoyed when something like Band of Brothers comes along and is good at both.

    My wife and I have to be very quiet when we go to the movies (rarely these days, thanks to the ever expanding litter we have). At home we get to talk. If it’s a legal drama she will chatter non-stop (apparently the problem with A Time to Kill was that they didn’t spend enough time exploring the jury selection process). If its history or action, it’s me chattering (can you believe the gun errors that Hollywood shows us? I fucking hate it when someone, to make a point, cycles an action. So you weren’t ready to shoot before this? In one show, a character racked a pump shotgun three times for emphasis-no shooting, apparently she was just flinging unfired shells on the ground to make a point).

    The Wire was our goldmine. Legal, police and political stuff for the wife to bash. Gun errors and teaching for me to stomp on.

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  4. Hal_10000

    My wife and I have to be very quiet when we go to the movies (rarely these days, thanks to the ever expanding litter we have). At home we get to talk. If it’s a legal drama she will chatter non-stop (apparently the problem with A Time to Kill was that they didn’t spend enough time exploring the jury selection process). If its history or action, it’s me chattering (can you believe the gun errors that Hollywood shows us? I fucking hate it when someone, to make a point, cycles an action. So you weren’t ready to shoot before this? In one show, a character racked a pump shotgun three times for emphasis-no shooting, apparently she was just flinging unfired shells on the ground to make a point).

    Ugh. That drives me nuts! Cracked did a pecked on gun cliches a while ago that was spot on.

    Congrats on the expanding brood, BTW.

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  5. HARLEY

    My wife and I have to be very quiet when we go to the movies (rarely these days, thanks to the ever expanding litter we have). At home we get to talk. If it’s a legal drama she will chatter non-stop (apparently the problem with A Time to Kill was that they didn’t spend enough time exploring the jury selection process). If its history or action, it’s me chattering (can you believe the gun errors that Hollywood shows us? I fucking hate it when someone, to make a point, cycles an action. So you weren’t ready to shoot before this? In one show, a character racked a pump shotgun three times for emphasis-no shooting, apparently she was just flinging unfired shells on the ground to make a point).

    My wife is a very experienced RN, and when a TV show or movie make a medical error, she is right on it, with a full 15 minute explanation on how it is done and what they did wrong.
    \With me is usually the guns or physics… oh god, it drive my wife nutz, when the show the effects of bullets on bodies, car doors or the bulletproof 55 gallon drum..
    One thing i really really hate is the ,draw, aim, click noise every time they aim at some jerk.
    spent casings of a different cal than the gun being shot.
    the magic ability of shot guns to blow large holes in doors Agh..
    Then you have the holier than thou cop shows they have some guy shooting 400 yards from a 5th story window with a AR-15 and killing a cop wearing ballistic armor,and making comments about cop killer bullets and evil hollowpoints….

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