Richard Bell Buchanan – Captain, United States Marine Corps


Richard Bell Buchanan
Second Nicaraguan Campaign
College: Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences
Graduation Year: 1917
Service branch: Marines
Rank: Captain
Date of Birth: 12/16/1892
Date of Death: 5/16/1927
Sigma Alpha Epsilon

Captain Buchanan was killed in action at LaPaz Centro, Nicaragua.

He was initiated in Illinois Beta of Sigma Alpha Epsilon on October 28, 1911.

Inscribed on a bronze plaque at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the following: “His commanding officer, Brigadier General Logan Feland, said of him, ‘I am glad to state this Marine detachment, under most difficult circumstances and although outnumbered ten to one, has upheld the reputation of the Marine Corps. Captain Buchanan and his detachment showed bravery of the highest order.'

Submitted by Doug Fink, Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity member.

In the early-morning hours of May 16, 1927, a couple of hundred marauding bandits and demobilized Liberal soldiers swept into La Pez Centro, Nicaragua, a railroad town midway between Coronto and Managua.

The Marine detachments from the Scouting Fleet's battleships USS Florida, and USS Arkansas, were camped outside, and the townspeople came to them for help. Buchanan, the Marine skipper, ordered his bugler to sound the call to arms, and with forty men he advanced into the town.

“Buchnan did a very gallant thing,” said Marine Corps Commandant John E. Lejeune. “He went right into that town in the dead of night and the town was full of these bandits. They were looting the houses and the stores.”

The ensueing fight lasted for two hours. Buchanan and a Marine Private were killed. Fourteen dead bandits lay strewn in the street. But the actual number of bandits was not known, according to Lejune. “They do not like to leave their dead around. They have a superstition about the vultures, which are everywhere in the country eating dead men, and they always carry off their dead if they can possibly do it.”

Born on December 16, 1892 and killed on May 16, 1927, this Marine Corps hero was returned to the United States for burial in Section 4 of Arlington National Cemetery.

His wife, Marjorie Brown Buchanan, January 10, 1901-September 1, 1982, never remarried and lived for 55 years after he was killed. She now lies with her hero in Arlington.

MC United States Marine Corps
DATE OF DEATH: 05/16/1927

DATE OF BIRTH: 01/10/1901
DATE OF DEATH: 09/01/1982
WIFE OF RB BUCHANAN – United States Marine Corps

By 26 May, the Liberals had turned in 11,600 rifles, 303 machine guns, and 5,500,000 rounds of ammunition. Nevertheless, there were plenty of indications of turbulence to come.

On 16 May, a band of outlaws, a fragment of the rebel army, raided the village of La Paz.  No sooner had the bandits begun their looting than a detachment of Marines, led by Captain Richard B. Buchanan, charged along the main street to meet them.  In routing the outlaws, Captain Buchanan and Private Marvin A. Jackson were killed.  Roving bandits and irrational political loyalty could combine to keep Nicaragua in turmoil for years to come.

Monday, May. 30, 1927
Marines Killed

Six thousand two hundred rifles, 272 machine guns, and 5,000,000 rounds of ammunition were surrendered last week to the U. S. forces in Nicaragua by the Liberal and Conservative armies, heretofore engaged in a civil war (TIME, May 17, 1926, et seq.). Colonel Henry Lewis Stimson, personal representative of President Coolidge, supervised this operation, cabled: “The civil war in Nicaragua is now definitely ended.”

Next morning, at 1 a. m., a band of about 300 Liberal soldiers, not yet disarmed, offered resistance in the hamlet of La Paz Centro to a platoon of U. S. marines commanded by Captain Richard Bell Buchanan. For two hours and a half the engagement continued. Captain Buchanan fell, wounded in the chest and arms, and died some hours later. Fourteen Nicaraguans were killed. The rest scattered, but not until Private Marvin Andrew Jackson, U. S. M. C., had been instantly killed by a shot through the brain.

In Chicago, Mrs. Nellie C. Everett, mother of Private Marvin Andrew Jackson, said:

“He was always such a good boy. And so interested in military matters. As soon as he got out of school he tried to get into the Marines. He was 6 ft., 2 in. tall and weighed 180 pounds, but the examiners were hard to satisfy. They turned him down at first.

“Then I helped him. My husband and I sent him to doctors and had his physical defects remedied. His tonsils were taken out. There was even an operation to correct a very slight flat foot.”


Photo Courtesy of the United States Marine Corps





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