Veterans' Memorial Project

Richard Bell Buchanan

Carbondale, IL

Second Nicaraguan Campaign

College: Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences

Graduation Year: 1917

Service Branch: Marines

Rank: Captain

Date of Birth: 12/16/1892

Date of Death: 05/16/1927

Affiliations: Sigma Alpha Epsilon

Captain Buchanan was killed in action at La Paz Centro, Nicaragua. An account of his death follows:
In the early morning hours of May 16, 1927, a couple of hundred marauding bandits and demobilized Liberal soldiers swept into La Paz Centro, Nicaragua, a railroad town midway between Coronto and Managua.
The Marine detachments from the Scouting Fleet’s battleships USS Florida, and USS Arkansas, were camped outside, and the townspeople came to them for help. Buchanan, the Marine skipper, ordered his bugler to sound the call to arms, and with 40 men he advanced into the town.
“Buchanan did a very gallant thing,” said Marine Corps Commandant John A. Lejeune. “He went right into that town in the dead of night and the town was full of these bandits. They were looting the houses and the stores.”
The ensuing fight lasted for 2 hours. Buchanan and Marine Private Marvin A. Jackson were killed. Fourteen dead bandits lay strewn in the street. But the actual number of bandits was not known, according to Lejeune. “They do not like to leave their dead around. They have a superstition about the vultures, which are everywhere in the country eating dead men, and they always carry off their dead if they can possibly do it.”
Captain Buchanan was returned to the United States for burial in Section 4 of Arlington National Cemetery. His wife, Marjorie Brown Buchanan (January 10,1901 – September 1, 1982) never remarried and lived for 55 years after he was killed. She now lies with her husband in Arlington.
Captain Bell He was initiated into Illinois Beta of Sigma Alpha Epsilon on October 28, 1911. Inscribed on a bronze plaque at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the following: “His commanding officer, Brigadier General Logan Feland, said of him, ‘I am glad to state this Marine detachment, under most difficult circumstances and although outnumbered ten to one, has upheld the reputation of the Marine Corps. Captain Buchanan and his detachment showed bravery of the highest order.’

– submitted by Doug Fink, Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity member and Michael Robert Patterson, a Grateful American

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