World War II fighter pilot Robert ‘Buck’ Weaver dies at 101

Robert “Buck” Weaver.

Edmonds resident Robert ‘Buck’ Weaver died on May 4, at the age of 101. A long-time member of Edmonds-based VFW Post 7780, Weaver was a familiar face at Edmonds’ annual Memorial Day ceremonies and 4th of July parades.

“It is a honor to call him friend and comrade,” said Post Member Mike Denton. “He will be missed.”

To mark Weaver’s passing, Denton shared this story written by Fred Apgar, past VFW Post 8870 commander:

A Hero Died Today

Today, our nation lost one of its great American heroes. Robert “Buck” Weaver passed away at the age of 101, ascended into the afterlife, and joined the pantheon of warriors who have served our great nation in the defense of liberty and freedom. I was blessed to have the honor and privilege to call Buck my friend and have the opportunity to learn, first-hand, about the life of a fighter pilot during the war in the Pacific in WWII. Buck left a legacy of being a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, respected member of the community, and friend. I join my comrades of VFW Post 8870 in extending our heartfelt condolences to Buck’s family.

Buck Weaver was born in 1918 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was the fourth child in a family with two brothers and a sister. Buck was active in sport in high school and graduated 1936. Since jobs were scarce in those days, Buck enlisted in the Ohio National Guard Cavalry. Buck pursued a pre-dental program at the University of Cincinnati but his plans to become a dentist were placed on hold when with the start of WWII. In September 1941, he was sworn into the Army Air Corps and reported for primary training at Grider Field in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. A month later, Buck soloed in the PT-19A trainer and completed the pilot training program in April 1942, earning his wings.

Buck in the cockpit in World War II.

After flying anti-submarine missions off the coast of California for six months, he transitioned into the P-39. Upon completion of the program in September 1943, Buck found himself on a troop ship on his way to New Guinea. It would take 19 days for the ship to arrive at Port Moresby, headquarters for the 5th Air Force. Buck and the other members of the 41st Fighter Squadron would be flying bomber escort, dive bombing, and combat air patrol missions in the South Pacific in support of the “island hopping campaign.” Often times, Buck and his fellow pilots would land their planes on hastily constructed landing strips even before the islands were totally under control. Their planes had to be refueled and rearmed for the next day’s island hopping mission. For the next year, Buck flew 137 combat missions in his beloved P-39 Airacobra and the P-40 Warhawk. The conditions in which they lived were harsh and when they were able to obtain C rations, they celebrated that as a great meal.

After the war, Buck left the Army Air Corps to return to his dental studies, earning his DDS four years later. He returned to active duty status in what had then become the Air Force and served in the Dental Corps for the next 25 years. In 1975, Buck retired from the Air Force with the rank of Colonel.

Buck was preceded in death by his loving wife, Bettina. They had moved to Edmonds in 1996, to be near their four children and their grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Rest in peace dear friend, may you always have blue skies and a tailwind. I love you, Buck.

— By Fred Apgar 

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