Timeline of Buck Buchanan’s service

Aug. 3, 1913: Heydon W. “Buck” Buchanan is born in Indianapolis. After both his parents died, he later moved to the Indiana Masonic Home in Franklin.

1930: Buchanan graduates from the Masonic Home high school and enrolls in Indiana University.

1934: Buchanan graduates from Indiana, after taking ROTC and earning a reserve commission.

1938: Buchanan marries Bernice Foy, a Franklin native.

1939: Buck and Bernice Buchanan’s first child, Ann, is born.

Aug. 19. 1941: Buchanan is called to active duty with the U.S. Army.

Late summer 1941: The Army hosts the Great Louisiana Maneuvers, a massive training exercise and war games featuring 500,000 soldiers in preparation in case the U.S. went to war. Buchanan was an infantry platoon leader during the maneuvers.

Late 1941: Buchanan was one of 10 officers chosen to be the staff of the V Army Corps Combat Intelligence School, a comprehensive effort to create an intelligence network for the military.

Dec. 7, 1941: Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese, officially drawing the U.S. into World War II.

April 1942: A small portion of the V Army Corps, including Buchanan, begins training in photo reconnaissance in Pennsylvania.

May 10, 1942: Buchanan is part of a top-secret journey shipping more than 10,000 soldiers across the Atlantic Ocean to Northern Ireland.

June 1942: Two Americans, one of whom was Buchanan, are chosen for the advance photo intelligence course in Matlock, England. Those trained in the course would be vital in helping plan bombing raids, invasion landings and other missions.

Nov. 8, 1942: Operation Torch — the invasion of Northern Africa at Casablanca, Oran and Tangiers — commences. Buchanan was heavily involved in planning the operation.

Dec. 21, 1942: Buchanan is onboard the SS Strathallan, sailing to North Africa, when it is torpedoed by German U-boats. He survives, but spends the night in diesel fuel-contaminated waters, causing him to be sick for weeks in early 1943.

Early 1943: Buchanan is chosen to be a member of Force 141, the secret organization formed by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower to plan Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, Italy.

February 1943: Gen. Harold Alexander, one of the most well-respected and decorated generals in the British military, is assigned to lead ground forces in Tunisia, North Africa. Buchanan is chosen to be his aide.

May 12, 1943: The final Axis troops in North Africa surrender, giving total control of the region to the Allies.

July 10, 1943: Operation Husky, planned extensively by Buchanan and others, begins on Sicily’s southern coast.

Aug. 17, 1943: The invasion of Sicily ends with an Allied victory.

Sept. 9, 1943: The U.S. 5th Army begins landing at Salerno, just south of Naples, Italy. Less than one month later, Naples was controlled by the Allies.

Late 1943 to early 1944: Buchanan follows Allied troops as they move through southern Italy, slowly pushing back German troops.

May 1944: The Allies attack and eventually take Monte Cassino, a strategic defense position for the Germans. Buchanan is in the middle of that offensive.

February 1945: Buchanan is promoted to lieutenant colonel, and is granted his first leave of the war. He spends a month back with Bernice and Ann in Indiana, the first time they’d seen each other in three years.

Aug. 1945: Buchanan returns home from war permanently.

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.