By Kubair Chuchra '18 and Jerry Gross '18
Captain Ripley Buckingham
US Army Medical Corps
STA Class of 1931
August 19, 1912 - August 18, 1944
Plot O 206
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Carpe Diem. Ripley “Rip” Buckingham always sought to seize the day. Described as a “Good-Sport” by the 1931 Albanian, Buckingham spent his years at Saint Albans “rushing to and fro” between his various passions. As a musician, he poured his soul into the school Choir and Orchestra. As a writer, he spent late nights drafting articles for the Saint Alban’s News. As an aspiring doctor, he worked for the school’s Red Cross Committee. As an athlete, he sparred against Georgetown Preparatory School Students in the boxing ring. As a Christian, he volunteered as a Cathedral Server and member of the Vestry. Buckingham did it all, and did it with passion.
After graduating STA in 1931, Buckingham continued his education at Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont. Just like at Saint Albans, he made the most of his school opportunities. He served as Baseball Manager, edited for the student newspaper, sung in the Glee Club, and made the Dean’s List, among other things. Buckingham became so popular among his friends that the Norwich Yearbook described him as a “socialite from Washington.”
After graduating Norwich in 1935, Buckingham continued his academic career at George Washington University. There he married his wife, Virginia Ann Wright. After studying pre-med for a year, then enrolling in the medical school, Rip graduated as Dr. Buckingham in the spring of 1941. A few short weeks later, however, the war effort commissioned Buckingham into the Army Medical Corps Reserve.
After being called into active duty in July of 1942, Buckingham set sail for China on August 18th, 1943. Upon arrival, he joined Chennault’s “Flying Tigers,” a group which later merged with the 23rd Fighter Group. Buckingham was primarily responsible for training Chinese medics and he later became a liaison officer in the Chinese Army.
On August 19th, 1944, during an armed reconnaissance mission near Salween River, Dr. Buckingham left his foxhole to run a “mission of mercy.” On the way, an enemy sniper’s bullet cut Dr. Ripley Buckingham’s life short. Just one day shy of turning 32, Buckingham gave his life in the hopes that he could save another. His body was initially buried by allied soldiers in Poshau, China, near the Melsong River, but later returned to American soil. Though Dr. Buckingham’s life was short, it was full of energy and adventure.
Lieutenant James Edwin Hickey Rumbough
Army of the United States, O-025702
STA Class of 1938
August 31, 1920 - December 3, 1944
Grave 128, Row 9, Plot H
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Taguig City, Philippines
“Noise.” James E. H. Rumbough, Saint Albans Class of 1938, was known among his classmates as “Noise,” an ironic play on his quiet, stern, and studious demeanor. A three-time Varsity Soccer Player and senior-year Team Captain, Rumbough exhibited athletic prowess in all of his years at Saint Albans. Also a member of the JV Football and Baseball Teams, “Rumba,” as he was also known, was involved in many school extracurriculars. He was also head of the Albanian, the school’s yearbook, and a two-time Cathedral Server.
James Rumbough was selected to attend the US Military Academy at West Point by Presidential Appointment in the July of 1939, precluding him from attending most classes, as West Point was executing intensive training exercises at this point. Rumbough graduated in 1943 and enrolled in the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division. He completed training with his regiment in New Guinea and prepared for the assault on the Philippines. During the evening of December 3rd, “Jimmy” was sent with his squad to investigate reports of enemy fire in a dry creek bed about 1500 yards away from his Battalion in Leyte. He met immediate contact from the enemy, and one of his scouts was wounded. He dragged the wounded scout out of the line of fire and then voluntarily led his patrol forward to gain a better firing position over his enemy. As Lieutenant Rumbough looked over the top of a small mound he was using as cover to discover the source of the enemy fire, he was shot in the head and killed. Rumbough received a Purple Heart and a Silver Star for “Gallantry in action on Leyte, Philippine Islands on 3 December, 1944.” Assembly said of Lt. Rumbough in April of 1947, “His great courage, intrepidity, and high sense of loyalty to his men exemplify the finest qualities of an officer, and are in keeping with the high traditions upon which the military forces of the United States have been founded.” James E.H. Rumbough rests in Grave 128, Row 9, Plot H of the Manila American Cemetery, Taguig City, Philippines.