HONOLULU - Brig. Gen. Donald M. "Buck" Schmuck passed away on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2004, at Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu. He was 88.
Gen. Schmuck was born on Aug. 16, 1915, on the family farm in Woodford, Ill. As a young boy, he moved to Denver. He was raised in Denver and on the family ranch near Walden, Colo. He attended college at the University of Colorado and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
Enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1935, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1938 following graduation from the University of Colorado. After basic school, he served as a platoon leader at Marine Corps Base in San Diego.
With the outbreak of World War II, he shipped to the South Pacific with the 2nd Marine Brigade. He saw action in Guadalcanal, Vella Lavella and Bougainville as a rifle company commander. He was hospitalized briefly from injuries sustained in Bougainville. He then joined the 1st Marine Division in time for landings on Pelelieu, and later, Okinawa, where he was again wounded in action. As World War II ended, he was a lieutenant colonel commanding an infantry battalion training for the invasion of Japan. He was 29 years of age at the time.
After the war, he attended the Amphibious Warfare School at Quantico, Va., and the Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga. He did a short tour with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., before returning to Quantico as an instructor in the Marine Corps Schools. In 1949, he was ordered to the United Nations Middle Eastern Commission, and was active in Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Iraq.
With the start of the Korean War in 1950, he joined the 1st Marine Division and was assigned as commander of the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines under the regimental command of Col. Chesty Puller. He led the 1st Battalion in action during 1950 and 1951, including the Chosin Reservoir operation, the Spring Counter Offensive, and then as regimental executive through the Summer Offensive.
Following Korea, he served with the Fleet Marine Force Pacific at Pearl Harbor. During that duty, he was charged with producing a number of contingency war plans covering national objectives in Asia, including several locations in Vietnam. He conducted the in-country reconnaissance required for those plans. In 1959, he attended the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pa.
He retired from the Marine Corps in 1960 with the rank of brigadier general. Despite his retirement, he continued to be active in special missions in Central America, Vietnam, and Laos. He completed a Ph.D. in nuclear physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder in the early 1960s. During that time, he purchased the Triangle-S ranch North of Buffalo, Wyo.
In 1990, he was a guest of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the carrier Pelelieu in the South China Sea en route to the Middle East. In February, 1991, he saw action once more as a military observer during Desert Storm in the Gulf War.
Gen. Schmuck's decorations include the Navy Cross, two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit with combat V, two Bronze Stars with combat V's, three Purple Hearts, the Air Medal, the Navy Commendation with combat V, the Presidential Unit Citation with five battle stars, the Navy Distinguished Unit medal and numerous foreign decorations and campaign medals.
In retirement, the general was active with the Marine Corps League in Wyoming and Hawaii, and was a founding member of the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club. He resided at his ranch located between Sheridan and Buffalo, Wyo., and wintered in Honolulu. He is survived by a brother, Cmdr. Carl Schmuck (ret) of Anacortes, Wash., and numerous nieces and nephews. Services will be held later this spring at Arlington National Cemetery.