Brian L. Buker was born on Nov. 3, 1949, in Benton, Maine. After graduating from Lawrence High School in Fairfield, Maine, Buker chose to follow in the footsteps of his three older brothers who had served in Vietnam.
Buker enlisted after his 17th birthday and was selected for Army Special Forces training. After completing a rigorous selection process, he was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and deployed to Vietnam.
After being promoted to sergeant, Buker volunteered for a second tour. Within the 5th Special Forces Group, he was assigned to Detachment B-55 of the 5th Mobile Strike Force Command, known as MIKE Force. As a member of MIKE Force, his primary mission was to operate as a platoon advisor for the 513th Company, made up of trained Vietnamese civilians.
In March 1970, Detachment B-55 was tasked with clearing a series of Viet Cong held bunkers on a mountain called Nui Ket, in modern day An Giang Province, bordering Cambodia. Well-shielded from air attacks and mortar barrages, the Viet Cong stronghold had to be taken by force.
While ferrying ammo and water up the mountain on April 4, 1970, the second day of the battle, Buker’s two platoons were ambushed. Taking the initiative, he counterattacked and successfully resupplied his comrades.
On April 5, Buker led his men for the final assault against the mountain fortress. Caught between the heavy crossfire of two enemy bunkers, and realizing that retreat would result in heavy casualties, Buker fearlessly stormed the first enemy bunker, destroying it with four hand grenades. Rushing back to reorganize his men for an attack on the second bunker, he was severely wounded.
Deciding to push on, Buker refused medical attention and crawled toward the second enemy bunker. Tossing a grenade, he eliminated the enemy and saved countless lives. Not long later, his wounds proved fatal. The remaining enemy forces were driven out that evening, and Nui Ket was secured.
For his actions on April 5, 1970, Sgt. Buker was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor and a Purple Heart. During his time in service, he was also awarded two Bronze Stars, a Vietnamese Gallantry Cross and a Combat Infantryman Badge.
In 2010, Buker’s family donated his Medal of Honor to Lawrence High School, in Benton, Maine, where it is on display in the school’s library. His family donated his medal “so future generations will know who he was and what he did for his county, lest they forget.”
Sergeant Buker’s courage and sacrifice will not be forgotten.
We honor his service.