Remembering Army Special Forces Sgt. Brian L. Buker – Medal of Honor
The Vietnam War had been going on for close to 10 years when Brian L. Buker graduated from Lawrence H.S. in Fairfield, Maine, in 1968. His three older brothers had already served in Vietnam, so it was not unusual that he would want to go into the military himself. He entered the U.S. Army just after his 17th birthday and requested to enter the Army’s Special Forces Training.
Buker was accepted into the Special Forces Training Program, and after completing that training, he was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and was deployed to Vietnam. He survived that tour and had proven himself an excellent Special Forces leader. So much so that, after returning home, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.
After being promoted, Buker volunteered for a second tour in Vietnam. On this tour in 1970, he was assigned to Detachment B-55 of the 5th Mobile Strike Force Command, which was known as MIKE Force. He was made a platoon advisor for the 513th Company, a force made up of South Vietnamese civilian volunteers.
In March of 1970, his Detachment B-55 was given the mission of clearing out a mountain fortress of Viet Cong forces. The area was along the Cambodian border in the An Giang Province of South Vietnam. The mountain was in an isolated area of difficult mountainous terrain that was resistant to aerial attack or artillery fire. The mountain was called Nui Ket, and the Viet Cong had established a well-fortified and well-defended area there honeycombed with heavily armed and protected bunkers.
On the second day of the battle to clear this area, April 4, 1970, Buker was leading two platoons up the mountain, attempting to resupply his Special Forces comrades higher up the mountain with ammo and water. They were ambushed, but Buker quickly organized his men, led them in a successful counterattack, and was able to successfully resupply his comrades.
On April 5th, he was leading his platoons in a final assault against the Viet Cong fortress. They came under withering fire from two Viet Cong bunkers that had them pinned down. Buker, seeing that something had to be done or they would be wiped out, stormed one of the enemy bunkers and destroyed it with four grenades. On running back to his men, he was severely wounded. He refused medical attention and pushed on.
He crawled to the second bunker under heavy fire and destroyed it with grenades but succumbed to his injury shortly thereafter. His actions had saved his platoon, and the enemy was shortly thereafter defeated and forced off of their mountain sanctuary.
For his actions over those two days, Buker was awarded the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart posthumously. Over his time in the Army Special Forces, Buker had also been awarded two Bronze Stars with a “V” device, the Vietnam Gallantry Cross, and the Combat Infantry Badge.
In 2010, Buker’s family donated his Medal of Honor to his alma mater, Lawrence High School in Fairfield, Maine, “so future generations will know who he was and what he did for his country.”
In my writing and your reading of this article, we are remembering Brian L. Buker again. We are humbled by his selfless service to his brothers-in-arms, and we honor his courageous actions on behalf of those he led in that battle that day at Nui Ket Mountain in An Giang Province, South Vietnam. We will never forget. Hooah, good soldier!Whizzco