'Band of Brothers' Soldier Dies at 90
Associated Press Feb 29, 2012
BURLINGTON, Wash. -
Lynn D. "Buck" Compton, a veteran whose World War II exploits were depicted in the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers," has died, his family said.
Compton died Saturday in Burlington, Wash., after having a heart attack last month, the family told the Los Angeles Times in a story Tuesday.
In January, nearly 200 guests, including actors from the miniseries, attended his 90th birthday party, the Skagit Valley Herald reported.
"To us he wasn't really a war hero, he was just a hero, period," Tracy Compton told the Herald.
Lynn Compton also is remembered for his legal career in California. He headed the team that prosecuted Sirhan B. Sirhan for the slaying of Robert F. Kennedy and was appointed to the 2nd District Court of Appeal in 1970 by Gov. Ronald Reagan. He retired from the bench in 1990.
He was awarded a Silver Star and a Purple Heart during World War II. But it wasn't until later in life that he became famous for his military service as a first lieutenant in Easy Company after the unit parachuted into France on D-Day in 1944. Historian Stephen E. Ambrose's 1992 best seller about the unit was made into the 2001 TV series.
"His career as a prosecutor and a judge overrode his military career until `Band of Brothers' came out, and then it just went crazy," daughter Syndee Compton said.
A passage in the book recalled the D-Day invasion of France: "Compton had been an All-American catcher on the UCLA baseball team. The distance to the fleeing enemy was about the same as from home plate to second base. Compton threw his grenade on a straight line - no arch - and it hit a German in the head as it exploded."
Compton was embarrassed by the attention at his birthday party at Skagit Regional Airport that was attended by children of other Band of Brothers veterans.
"All I can say is it's flattering - and kind of embarrassing," Compton told the Herald. "We didn't expect anything more than those other guys (in the war). We're celebrating longevity more than anything."
The guests included "Band of Brothers" actors Michael Cudlitz, James Madio, Richard Speight Jr. and Neal McDonough, who portrayed Compton in the miniseries.
McDonough recalled meeting with Compton the day before he flew to London to begin filming "Band of Brothers," and later peppering him with questions about his time during the war.
"When you play a historical figure, you have to do it right and tell the truth," McDonough told the Times, recalling that Compton told him he was just doing his job.
"He'd say that's what soldiers do," said McDonough, who kept in touch with Compton and nicknamed his 6-year-old son Morgan "Little Buck" in his honor.
Tracy Compton said her father thought McDonough did a wonderful job portraying him and that "he laughed and said Neal was better-looking than he ever was."
Compton was born in Los Angeles on Dec. 31, 1921. He majored in physical education and minored in education at UCLA, where he lettered in football and baseball. He started at guard in the 1943 Rose Bowl game against Georgia and was selected all-conference catcher while captain of the baseball team in 1942.
He also participated in the ROTC program and entered active service in February 1943 at age 21.
After the war, he became a Los Angeles police officer and worked his way through Loyola Law School. He was a detective in the Central Burglary Division before joining the district attorney's office in 1951. He was assistant district attorney when District Attorney Evelle J. Younger chose him as his chief deputy in 1966.
Compton's memoir "Call of Duty: My Life Before, During and After the Band of Brothers," written with Marcus Brotherton, was published in 2008.
His wife, Donna, died in 1994. Along with his two daughters, he is survived by four grandchildren.
Lynn D. “Buck” Compton, an Army paratrooper whose World War II service was portrayed in the book and HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” died Feb. 26. He was 90. - (Family Photo) -
‘Band of Brothers’ veteran Buck Compton dead at 90
By T. Rees Shapiro, Published: February 27
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 of 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.
At 6 feet, 220 pounds, he had been a two-sport varsity athlete for the University of California at Los Angeles before he became an Army officer in 1943. He was a catcher alongside future major leaguer Jackie Robinson and played guard on the Bruins’ line in the 1943 Rose Bowl. (UCLA lost 9-0 to the University of Georgia.)
In his 2008 memoir, “Call of Duty” (written with Marcus Brotherton), Mr. Compton recalled leaning out of a C-47 transport plane about 1 a.m. on D-Day.
“In the moonlight, I could see the Normandy coastline in the distance,” he wrote. “It looked surprisingly peaceful in spite of what I could only imagine lay ahead. Tracer bullets and anti*aircraft started to appear, red, blue and green tracers, spectacular and deadly against the night sky.”
After regrouping on the ground, Mr. Compton and 1st Lt. Richard “Dick” Winters led an assault on a German artillery emplacement near Brecourt Manor.
The battery was heavily fortified and protected by 50 German sentries. Entering a trench, Mr. Compton’s baseball instincts took over when he saw German soldiers retreating.
“The distance to the fleeing enemy was about the same as from home plate to second base,” historian Stephen Ambrose wrote in the 1992 book “Band of Brothers.” Mr. Compton “threw his grenade on a straight line — no arch — and it hit a German in the head as it exploded.”
For capturing the position and saving countless Allied lives, Mr. Compton received the Silver Star — the military’s third-highest medal for valor in combat.
During Operation Market Garden, Mr. Compton was directing his men in battle when he was shot in the buttocks. He received the Purple Heart.
Upon recovering from his wounds, Mr. Compton rejoined Easy Company for the worst fighting the unit encountered in the war. Holed up in a forest near Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge, the soldiers endured below-freezing temperatures and heavy snow while German forces splintered the trees with artillery fire.
“I had seen men die before. I had seen men get wounded before,” Mr. Compton wrote in “Call of Duty.” “But this was different. This was unprecedented gore.”
After one battle, Mr. Compton emerged from his foxhole to find the mangled bodies of a dozen of his men, their blood staining the snow. He ran to find medical treatment for the wounded before sitting down on a fallen tree and sobbing over the loss of his friends.[I]