Last year, I wrote a Memorial Day tribute to Richard L. Dews, a U.S. Army paratrooper who died on February 19, 1945, in combat on the Philippine island of Corregidor. He was 27. This year, I’m remembering another World War II soldier who shared my surname—though also no relation. Buford L. Dews, a Tennessee native, died only four days after Richard, on February 23, 1945 in France. He was 21.
Buford Dews was born on January 24, 1924 in Tennessee, son of Charles R. (1894–1985) and Willie (Fields) Dews (1897–1977), who both were Tennessee natives. He was the youngest of three sons; his older brothers Charles (1917–2007) and James (1918–1997) were seven and six years older, respectively. His father, born about 1894, was a machinist in a shop.
In 1937, when Buford was in the 7th or 8th grade, he and four other boys formed a “schoolboy safety patrol” to help safeguard other children walking to school after an 8-year-old girl in their school was struck and killed by a car in the week before. He’s pictured below in the front row middle. Buford also participated in the safety patrol in high school.
Buford graduated from Central High School in 1942 and worked for the Edenfield Electric Company prior to the war. He enlisted in February 1943 in the Army Air Forces (then a part of the Army branch), but was later transferred to the infantry. His unit, Love Company, 275th Regiment, 70th Infantry Division, went overseas in December 1944, landing in southern France the same day—December 16—that German forces launched their offensive in the Ardennes, the Battle of the Bulge.
The 70th Division moved into defensive positions along the Rhine River in eastern France. On December 31, German forces launched their last major offensive in the western theater: Operation Nordwind. The 70th Division took part in the fighting to stop the German advance. The division then moved up to another border area, along the Saar River.
In February, the 275th Infantry was positioned in northeastern France, near the German town of Saarbrücken as the 70th Division prepared for an attack below the Saar (the border between France and Germany in this region). After about a week of combat, on February 23, PFC Dews was one of several soldiers killed while clearing enemy bunkers in the vicinity of Hill 341, just north of the French town of Spicheren. Thirteen other soldiers from Love Company alone lost their lives in just four days in February.
Private First Class Buford L. Dews’ remains were returned to Nashville in 1948. He was laid to rest with military honors at the Springhill Cemetery in Nashville.
Again, on Memorial Day, I remember a fallen U.S. soldier whose surname I happen to share. I know of no direct ancestral connection to Buford Dews, but still I honor his service, courage, and ultimate sacrifice.