Buzzard, John J. (608th, 607th)

John J. Buzzard 1John J. Buzzard

Biography: John J. Buzzard was born on July 24, 1910 in Huntington, Huntington County, Indiana. He was one of three sons and one daughter born to Roscoe Earl Buzzard and Bessie Alida Kase. He graduated from Huntington High School in 1931, participating in basketball, football and band among other activities. His enlistment record indicates he completed four years of high school and his draft record, dated October 16, 1940, indicates he was working at J. C. Penney Company, Germantown, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.

On October 10, 1943, he married the former Leetia Leona Stewart who was born in Huntington County, IN. She was the daughter of Robert William Stewart and Bertha M. Alexander and the new couple made their home in Huntington.

Service Time: John entered the Army on March 16, 1942 at New Cumberland, PA. At some point, he was assigned to the Medical Detachment of the 608th Tank Destroyer Battalion. The unit was formed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina in December 1941, and trained there until moving to Camp Atterbury, Indiana, on June 9, 1943. Training continued but on December 20, 1943, the 608th was deactivated and the personnel transferred to other tank destroyer units. John was transferred to the Medical Detachment of the 607th Tank Destroyer Battalion.

John J. Buzzard 2Arriving at his new unit, located at Camp Cooke, California, he continued training until they moved to Camp Myles Standish, Taunton, Massachusetts, de-training on April 7, 1944 to prepare for overseas shipment. They left the Boston port aboard the USS Wakefield on April 13 and arrived at Liverpool, England on the 21st. They continued training and soon, part of Headquarters Company and Company A disembarked at Utah Beach on June 17, with the remainder of the battalion arriving on June 23. Once in combat, John served in the Battalion Aid Station.  They supported the advance on Cherbourg, fighting along the Seves River in July. Participating in the drive to Le Mans and envelopment of the Falaise Pocket in August, they advanced to the Moselle River in September and supported operations against Metz, France, through November, converting to a self-propelled battalion equipped with M36 tank destroyers in time for the final assault.

Continuing the drive toward the Saar River and capture of Saarlautern, Germany, this was followed by the subsequent fight against the Siegfried Line in December. Deployed to the Ardennes sector in January 1945, they were committed against the Siegfried Line for a second time in February in the Schnee Eifel. Supporting the capture of Koblenz in mid-March. they crossed the Rhine River at Boppard on March 25. The unit continued to drive east through Hessen and Thüringen during April and reached the Czechoslovak border near Plauen by mid-April.

Thereafter, they remained in defensive positions until VE Day. He came home with the unit aboard the SS George Washington, arriving at the NYPE on October 26, 1945. John was awarded the Good Conduct, American Theater Service and World War II Victory medals along with the EAME medal and credit for the campaigns of Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. He left the military at the rank of Technician 5th Grade on October 30, 1945 at Camp Atterbury, IN.

John J. Buzzard 3We don’t have a lot of information about John’s life after he returned home. He and Leetia had a son, John Stewart, who was born in 1949. They lived in Huntington for several years but by 1956, they were in Ft. Wayne, IN and he was working as an assistant manager for the G.C. Murphy Company. John passed away in January 1986, and was buried in the Hamilton Cemetery, Hamilton, Steuben County, IN. We would like to thank Find-a-Grave contributor LMafera for use of the grave marker photo.