It is my personal and lucky privilege to know a genuinely humble and joyful WWII veteran as a member of VFW Post in Edmonds, Washington. His name is Robert ‘Buck’ Weaver and he was a P-39 fighter pilot with the US Army Air Corps in the Pacific Theater.
A year ago our VFW Post 8870 held a birthday party for Buck and two other members of the post who all turned 100 years old this past summer. I want all of you to know Buck Weaver too. Here is a little bit of his incredible story.
The stories of our other two centenarians will be coming soon as well.
‘Buck’ was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in August of 1918. He graduated from high school in 1936 and because there was a shortage of jobs at the time, he joined the Ohio National Guard Cavalry.
Your read that right. There was still such a thing in 1936.
Buck did that for three years and then started to follow in his dentist father’s footsteps, entering pre-dental studies at the University of Cincinnati. But he really had a fascination for planes and for flying.
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In September 1941 he dropped out of dental school when he was offered an “opportunity” by an US Army Air Corps recruiter to learn to fly. He went to Primary Training School at Grider Field in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and was flying a PT-19 trainer within one month. Notice his timing here. He joined about three months before Pearl Harbor happened. In fact, he would complete his primary training and had orders to go to Goodfellow Field in San Angelo, Texas, for further training, when the word came in that Pearl Harbor had been attacked.
Now the training took on a whole new meaning.
When he had completed his advanced flight training he spent six months flying an O-47 observation plane on the west coast out of Salinas, CA, looking for Japanese submarines. While there, he met and married the love of his life, Bettina. Then, in January of 1943 he went to Esler Field in Louisiana to learn how to fly the P-39 and P-40, single seater, fighter planes.
He fell in love with the P-39 Airacobra.
Soon he was on a troop ship through the Pacific on his way to join the 41st Fighter Squadron of the 5th Air Force out of Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea. Over the next year he would fly an incredible 137 combat missions. These missions included: providing escorts for bombing missions, dive bombing missions, and combat air patrol missions. He and the other pilots of the 41st would be instrumental in providing air support on many of the island invasion campaigns in the Pacific.
Buck and his fellow 41st Fighter Squadron pilots would often have to land on newly captured airfields on some of those contested islands, even while the fighting was still going on around them. They saw action against Japanese Zeros in the air, as against their entrenched positions on those islands.
Buck left the South Pacific in October 1944 as a Captain in the US Army Air Corps. and would be assigned as a Base Operations Officer at Brooks Field in San Antonio, Texas. He would leave the Army Air Corps in 1945 and return to pre-dental studies. He began Dental School at Ohio State University in 1946 and would graduate four years later. But Buck was not done with the military. He returned to what was, by then, the United States Air Force and served for the next 25 years as a Dental Officer and Instructor. He would serve in that capacity on Air Force bases in the United States, in Germany and in Japan and would retire in 1975 as a Colonel with almost 30 years of active duty service to the nation.
The Weavers moved to Edmonds, Washington in 1996 to be near their four children and all of their grandchildren and great grandchildren. ‘Buck’ Weaver attends every monthly meeting of VFW Post 8870 in Edmonds and is always the most joyful person in the room. He is often called upon to start our meetings by leading us in a chorus of America the Beautiful, or God Bless America, which he clearly enjoys.
At 101 years of age, I swear, he is still the handsomest one among us. His eyes are bright, there is always a smile on his face and he always has a positive and encouraging word for every one of our brother and sister veterans in attendance.
We all cherish his presence among us.
The Veterans Site honors Robert “Buck” Weaver’s service to the country over a 30 year career. We thank you for the courage and the humility and the joyfulness you model for all of us. We are brothers forever.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.