Michael Buck Jr.
Born: February 15, 1920
Hometown: Mount Kisco, NY
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Engine Cadet
Date/Place of death: March 10, 1943
Caribbean Sea, 19-49′ N, 74-38′ W
Date/Place of burial:March 10, 1943
Caribbean Sea, 19-49′ N, 74-38′ W /
Lost at sea
Engine Cadet on February 23, 1943 at Charleston, South Carolina. He was joined by
his Academy classmates Howard McGrath (Engine), James Rowley (Deck) and John
Tucek (Deck). The ship loaded at Charleston for a voyage to Karachi, India via Texas
and the Panama Canal with general cargo and 4,000 tons of high explosives.
On the morning of March 10, 1943 the James Sprunt was traveling in convoy KG-123
about three miles southeast of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Another ship in the convoy,
the Virginia Sinclair, had been torpedoed at 0430 on the same morning. At 0809 U-185
fired torpedoes at the convoy, hitting the James Sprunt.
The James Sprunt’s cargo of explosives blew up with extraordinary force, completely
disintegrating the ship. The glare from the explosion was seen more than forty miles
away, and witnesses on other ships recalled the violent tremors, and debris that fell like
hail on the other ships. There were no survivors among the 43 crew members and 28
Naval Armed Guard members including all four Kings Point Cadet Midshipmen; Michael
Buck, Howard McGrath, James Rowley, and John Tucek.
The thirty day life of the SS James Sprunt may have had the shortest life span of any
Liberty ship. The ship was delivered from North Carolina Shipbuilding to the War
Shipping Administration on February 13, 1943, loaded cargo from the 19th to the 29th
and was destroyed on March 10, 1943.
Cadet Midshipman Michael Buck was posthumously awarded the Mariners Medal,
Combat Bar, Atlantic War Zone Bar, Victory Medal and Presidential Testimonial Letter.
Michael Buck, Jr. was the fourth of Michael Buck, Sr. and Veronica Buck’s five sons
(Alexander, John, Joseph, Michael and Peter). The Bucks also had four daughters of
which Anna and Mary were Michael’s big sisters while Veronica and Helen were his
little sisters. Based on the 1930 and 1940 U.S. Census, it appears that Michael was
known as Marion (Maryan) by the rest of his family.
Photo of SS James Sprunt shortly after completion