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Col Wilson Norton “Buck” Boyles, Jr

Col Wilson Norton “Buck” Boyles, Jr

Birth
Rockmart, Polk County, Georgia, USA
Death 2 Jan 2011 (aged 91)
Mount Pleasant, Charleston County, South Carolina, USA
Burial West Point, Orange County, New York, USA
Memorial ID 73091378 · View Source
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Colonel Wilson N. "Buck" Boyles, Jr. (US Army Retired), of Mt. Pleasant, died January 2, 2011.

Buck had lived in Mt. Pleasant since retiring after 32 years of Army service. His wife of nearly 60 years, Ann (Gordy), preceded him in death, June 29, 2003.

Col. Boyles attended Rio Grande College and Ohio University during the Great Depression with the aid of scholarships, student self-help, and part-time summer work. Although only a year short of a degree in Education when selected as a cadet, he chose to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY. Its academic programs oriented toward science, engineering, and the year round military training would lead to a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as a career Army Officer.

Buck and Ann dated before he entered West Point. Although engaged while a cadet, their marriage had to wait until his graduation. A cadet could not be or ever have been married. They were married at West Point on June 6, 1944 in the Cadet Chapel following his graduation earlier that day which is well remembered as World War II's "D-Day".

A prized possession of Buck's was a letter from General Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower, West Point Class of 1915 and at that time Commander of the Allied Invasion Forces of Europe. Ike's message to the West Point Class of 1944 which included Ike's son, John, welcomed their help with the stern tasks that lay ahead. Encouragingly, he remarked that "the traditions of our West Point Alma Mater will sustain your devotion to duty".

As a 2nd Lieutenant, Buck's initiation to combat in Europe was as a Sherman tank platoon leader. During an attack, Ike's words of encouragement became a truism. A most challenging experience for Buck, who was still apprehensive about the unexpected challenges of war, occurred while attempting a Danube River crossing. As he crossed the river, his tank was hit and disabled by a remote controlled detonation of anti-tank mines (a tactic similar to the past Iraqi insurgent use of roadside bombs). When trying to abandon the tank, he and his crew were exposed to intense enemy weapons fire. The training and traditions of West Point sustained and enabled him to do his duty. Luckily, he was only slightly wounded by the mine explosions.

An extremely emotional experience for Buck occurred when his platoon unexpectedly overran Dachau, the infamous Nazi concentration camp, where thousands of European Jews had been incarcerated and exterminated. Many were still awaiting that fate. Buck wrote that "the starvation and gut wrenching inhumane conditions of those still incarcerated and near death were horrifying to witness. The appreciation and joy of those being liberated at that moment cannot be put into words". Buck's platoon, as a part of the 20th Armored Division, is now honored as the "Liberators" in the Holocaust Museum, Washington, DC.

Following Dachau, Buck's platoon participated in the capture of Munich, Germany and Salzburg, Austria. During a military career spanning three major wars, Col. Boyles saw service in nine countries. Col. and Mrs. Boyles made 28 household moves - some without his help. His continuing military formal education included year long studies at the Armored Officer's Advanced Course and the Command and General Staff College in the employment of the Army's largest combat and logistical units. Attendance at a specially designed course of Decision Making for Senior Officers conducted by Princeton University professors was also an honor.

Col. Boyles was selected for two highly privileged assignments. The first assignment was at the United States Military Academy at West Point as a Tactical Officer involving instruction of cadets in combat tactics and military leadership along with personal guidance to each of a designated group. The second assignment was to the Citadel staff and faculty as an Assistant Professor of Military Science while General Mark Clark was President of the Citadel and who provided inspirational leadership for all. Those friendships made with both Citadel personnel and the Charleston area civilians were most cherished and enjoyed upon returning to the area for retirement. An unexpected honor for Col. Boyles was being asked to consider applying as the replacement for a much respected retiring Assistant Commandant of the Citadel. Unfortunately, Col. Boyles had to decline due to Ann's serious health problems.

Col. Boyles was recognized, like so many of those dedicated and accomplished soldiers and officers with whom he had served, with awards and commendations for his service to his country. Among them are the Legion of Merit with an oak leaf cluster (denoting a second), the Army Meritorious Commendation Medal with cluster (denoting a second), a Bronze Star Medal with a "V" (denoting valor and heroic action in combat) and personal commendations for his help with the defense against the Chinese communist army by both the Republic of China's Army Commander-in-Chief, General Peng Meng-Chi and General Huang Cheih, the personal military advisor to President Generalisimo Cheng Kai-Sheck. These awards reflected his deep personal pride in representing his country and the Army in matters of such importance.

Col. Boyles is survived by a son, Wilson III and wife, Kathy, along with two grandchildren, Jason and Brittany, and two great-grandchildren.

Buck and Ann were buried together in a combined military funeral at West Point National Cemetery. A modest monument will have an inscription dedicated to Ann's unhesitating career long support and sacrifices.


Family Members


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  • Created by: Just another taphophile
  • Added: 9 Jul 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 73091378
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Col Wilson Norton “Buck” Boyles, Jr (14 Dec 1919–2 Jan 2011), Find A Grave Memorial no. 73091378, citing United States Military Academy Post Cemetery, West Point, Orange County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Just another taphophile (contributor 46513469) .