Museum seeks identity of Navy Cross honoree

The Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River is working to confirm the identity of a Rock Springs man killed in action in World War II and posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the second-highest award of the Navy or Marine Corps can bestow, exactly 75 years ago on Friday.

The museum recently came into information that on Saturday, on Oct. 2, 1945, a Rock Springs native was awarded the Navy Cross, which was presented to his mother.

Unfortunately, neither the man nor his mother are identified in the information.

Museum staff believes the man was Private First Class John Carl Buh, United States Marine Corps, who was killed in action on the Pacific island of Peleliu on Sept. 27, 1944.

Buh’s mother was Anna Buh, who lived on Lowell Ave. in Rock Springs.

According to his obituary, Buh was born in Rock Springs on June 19, 1923, attended local schools, and worked for the Union Pacific Coal Company until he entered the service in June, 1943.

Buh’s Navy Cross citation reads as follows:

“The Navy Cross is presented to John Carl Buh, Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism while serving with the Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on the Island of Peleliu in the Palau Group, on 27 September 1944. Providing rifle cover for the lead tank during a furious assault on an important enemy-held ridge strongly fortified with pillboxes and caves in the northern tip of the island, Private First Class Buh fought his weapon with resolute determination until his tank was knocked out by a powerful Bangalore torpedo hurled from a cave position and the tank crew suffered heavy casualties from the cave’s automatic fire which was pouring out in a continuous barrage.

“Fearlessly disregarding all personal danger, Private First Class Buh immediately moved out ahead of his vehicle and, delivering a steady, unceasing stream of deadly bullets into the mouth of the cave, succeeded in diverting the enemy’s fire long enough to enable flame throwers to advance and reduce the Japanese position before he was fatally struck down. An indomitable fighter, Private First Class Buh, by his daring initiative, unfaltering skill and aggressive fighting spirit in the face of fanatic opposition, contributed essentially to the ultimate conquest of this vital Japanese stronghold, and his great personal valor throughout the period of fierce hostilities reflects the highest credit upon himself and upon the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”

The National Museum of the Marine Corps called the Peleliu campaign “the bitterest battle of the war for the Marines.”

More than 1,500 Marines died while taking the island and 10,695 Japanese troops were killed.


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