Francis X. Buckley – Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army

From a contemporary news report:

A World War II hero remembered for making the historic link-up between the Fifth Army and and Anzio beachhead forces in Italy, died yesterday, February 24, 1983. He was 69 and lived in Northeast Philadelphia.

It was May 25, 1944, at 7:31 am when the two Allied fronts in Italy were united. Buckley, then a lieutenant, and a private named Lupe Sabala, of the 48th Combat Engineers, had walked out a couple miles ahead of their unit and spotted a captain with a 20-man patrol. The captain, Ben Souza, asked Buckley, “Where are you going?”

“To make contact with the beachhead,” Buckley replied. “You have already made contact,” said Souza with a grin. Without realizing it, Buckley had jumped the gun on a public relations event that had been in the planning for days. The p.r. officers who had planned to photograph the link-up, with a lot of high brass present, were beside themselves. Sabala later recalled: “Twenty minutes later the ‘recon’ group roared up and leaped out of their vehicles. I’ve never seen a madder outfit when they found out we’d already done the handshaking and had our pictures taken. “‘This is the lousiest, stinkingest trick I ever heard of,’ the recon captain yelled. He was mad as a wet hen.” Buckley was personally commended by Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, commander of the Fifth Army.

Originally from South Philadelphia, Buckley attended West Catholic High School and entered the war as a sergeant in the National Guard. Among Buckley’s decorations were the Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star and five battle stars. He won the Silver Star in Italy for leading a company that maintained its position in the face of a 48-hour bombardment of enemy artillery and mortar fire. Buckley left the Army after the war but rejoined in 1948, retiring on disability in 1966 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

He was a member of St. Catherine’s Church, a former member of AMVETS and a member of the disabled American Veterans. He is survived by his wife, the former Margaret Weir; four sons, Henry, Francis Jr., Joseph and Michael; and three daughters, Florence, Karen and Lillian. Friends may call from 7 pm to 9 pm Sunday at the Shay Funeral Home, 29th and Dickinson streets. Graveside services will be Monday at Arlington National Cemetery.

United States Army

  • DATE OF BIRTH: 05/01/1913
  • DATE OF DEATH: 02/24/1983


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