1st Platoon, C Company, 4th/47th Battalion, 2nd Brigade

Buford Hoover – Mekong Delta – 1967
Photo courtesy of John Young

Written by John Young – 1st Platoon

To my great sadness, we have lost one of our best. Buford Hoover died on 5 Nov 2001, at Fort Gordon, Georgia.  His wife of more than 35 years, a daughter and a grandson survive him.

All of us who served with him were better for it.  Buford Hoover was a natural soldier, an utterly reliable leader, a priceless friend, and a perfect morale-builder at the times when we really needed it. In the very worst times that we had in Vietnam, just knowing that Sergeant Hoover was there made you feel better. I will never forget him.

I am sure that every man from our unit who reads this will recall some special memory of Buford Hoover. I have so many that I have trouble knowing what to mention here, but some moments come readily:  Sergeant Hoover had just finished mixing and heating up a cup of C-Ration coffee when we came under fire�..he dove for the nearest rice paddy dike, losing the coffee in the process. When he raised his head to see what was happening, he looked at me and said “Charlie sure knows how to f— up a good cuppa coffee”. On 11 July, when the 2nd platoon suffered so badly, I was next to him when we received word that SSG Smith was dead, Hoover flinched ever so slightly, swallowed hard, and simply said “I’m gonna miss that man.” It said a lot coming from him. I can still hear him giving us his normal words of caution whenever we started to move out, “Watch out for snoopers and blooby-traps,” words of some small silliness that always made us smile at least a little.

You didn’t have to know Hoover very long to find out that he was from “West By-God Virginia,” and that he knew all there was to know about soldiering.  He was always a step ahead of any situation, and I used to marvel at his perfect coolness under fire. I was always very scared, and it seemed that Hoover never was. He was a great NCO.

Hoover and I were on the same plane for an R&R to Hawaii.  He would see his wife, and I had a girlfriend there. At the end of 5 days, we sat next to each other for the flight back to Vietnam and he took one last long look out the window, sat back and said “Just one bad thing about an R&R to Hawaii.”

“What’s that?” I asked and he answered, “It sure makes you want to live.”

That was Buford Hoover.  He was a man who could say so much with such few words. I’ve never had a better friend and I’ll never know a better man.

I’m gonna miss this man. . .

Mr. Buford Hoover

Web posted Wednesday, November 7, 2001

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Buford D. Hoover, U.S. Army Ret., entered into rest on Monday, November 5, 2001, at the Dwight
D. Eisenhower Medical Center, Fort Gordon. Funeral services will be held 3 p.m. Thursday, November 8 at Elliott
Sons Funeral Home Lumpkin Road Chapel. Interment will follow at Hillcrest Memorial Park. Mr. Hoover was a native
of Beckley, West Virginia and has lived in the Augusta area for the past 18 years. He served in and retired from the
U. S. Army after 27 1/2 years of service. He served our country in Korea and two tours of Vietnam. He is survived by
his loving wife of 36 years, Mrs. Ruth Hoover, Hephzibah; his daughter and son-in-law, Birgitt and Johnny Gregory,
Hephzibah; his grandson, Luther Buford Holsonback, Goldsboro, N.C. and his great-grandson, Jakob Holsonback.
Serving as pallbearers will be Luther B. Holsenback, Kevin E. Tesch, Mitch Wall, Dan Hollinsworth, Richard Bulkum
and Birgitt Gregory. The family will receive friends at the funeral home on Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. Elliott Sons
Funeral Home, 2524 Lumpkin Road, Augusta, GA 30906 The Augusta Chronicle November 7, 2001.

Sgt Buford Hoover – Soldier, Leader and most of…. my Opa
By Luther Holsonback – United States Air Force – February 3, 2013

As a young boy, I had the awesome opportunity to grow up knowing my grandfather Buford Hoover but I called him Opa.  My mom and grandmother were both German so that is where Opa came from. Opa was the kind of person who never met a stranger in his life and I am not too sure he had a whole lot of enemies. It would take us forever to go anywhere because he was always striking up a conversation with somebody. I remember Oma getting upset with him and fussing because he was always talking to someone.

My earliest memories with Opa was when me and my mother flew to Germany to see him and Oma where he was stationed before his final assignment at Fort Gordon GA.  We would sit outside and throw a tennis ball up against a rock wall behind their house and wave at the trucks coming down from the vineyard.  I also remember riding down the autobahn in Opa’s old charger and doing what felt like the speed of sound to a 5 year old.  I can remember times when we would go on base and it was like Opa was the top dog in the building. Everyone would stand by and everyone seemed to know his name.  I remember watching him yell at some young folks one time and I was scared for their lives (I think he was some sort of instructor).  Opa wasn’t a very big guy but man was he scary when he was upset with someone. He didn’t have a whole lot of patience for stupidity and he really hated when things were FUBARd.

He was very creative when it came to his favorite sayings. In the summer time he would always walk outside and say “man it is hotter than two dogs F**king out here” or “its hotter than a freshly F**ked fox in a forest fire.” He could definitely keep you laughing for sure.  He always had a good joke to tell, especially after he had been drinking. Sometime I would see him doing something dangerous and ask if he would be Ok and he would respond with:  “I got passed ‘Charlie’ so this damn sure aint gonna get
me.” Sometimes I would worry but he wasn’t scared of anything it seemed.  For years as a kid I would always wonder who this ‘Charlie’ was but eventually I figured it out.

Opa retired in 1984 at Fort Gordon after 27 1/2 years to our great nation. He retired in Augusta, Georgia and that is where he spent the rest of his life until he passed in November of 2001. When he retired, he started working as a guard at a prison.  He worked at the prison for a couple years and then he started working for a school as the maintenance supervisor. While working, he went to school for auto mechanics and paint and body and man did he love cars.  Opa would always go and buy cars, work on them for a while, get tired of it and sell it for another.  The last car we worked on was a 1972 Lincoln Mark IV. That car was longer than a bus but he had a passion for big rides with big motors. I always thought it was funny cause he was short and you could barely see him sometimes in those big cars
of his.  I remember when he bought that Lincoln, it wasn’t running so we had to tow it from the place he bought it. I drove the truck and he was in the Lincoln being towed behind.  By the time we got to his house, he was soaked in sweat and wore out from trying to steer that big car without any power (I was cracking up!).

Another hobby he had was fishing.  I remember getting up early on Saturday mornings and loading up the john boat to head out to the Savannah River to have a day of fishing.  The funny thing was that fishing with Opa usually meant that something crazy was going to happen. We would run out of gas, get lost, lose all of our tackle and one time he forgot to put the plug in and we nearly lost the boat.  I remember one time we took his old International truck to the river with the boat in the back.  Opa backed the truck down the ramp and hit the brakes a little too late and we backed into the water until the water was at the dash board. The boat floated away, we got pulled out and about an hour later someone brought our boat back from down river. Of course, after a few drinks and a couple of cold Coors, something exciting was always bound to happen.  At the end of the day, we would always stop at the fish store on the way home and buy fish to take home because we rarely caught anything.  But I would not trade those days for anything. I learned a lot about life, women, respect, responsibility and a bunch of other valuable lessons on those fishing trips.

I saw Opa on a daily basis because he only lived about 2 minutes up the road from us.  He would stop by everyday on his way home from work to hang out and have a drink and a smoke before going home. He would always share some crazy story about something that happened that day.  I tried to get him talking about Vietnam from time to time but he would not talk about it too much unless he was drunk, then I would get something out of him. You could tell that he was not very comfortable talking about it and then when he started to get emotional, he would stop.  When I joined the Air Force in 1997, I think that was one of the proudest days in his life. After I joined the military, he began to open up a little more and share some stories about his Vietnam experience with me.  He talked about all the great guys that he was with in the jungle, some returned and some didn’t. You could tell that he held onto a memory of each one that made the ultimate sacrifice and held on to them until the day he died.

Interesting fact, he slept in an Army issued sleeping bag on his back patio until the day he died. I never saw him sleep in a bed.  I remember asking him why he wouldn’t eat rice and he would say “if you see what I have seen, you wouldn’t eat rice neither.”  Opa was a great man!  He loved his family and was one of the smartest people that I have met.  We lost him in 2001 to complications from years of alcohol but he remained strong until the day he passed.  He did get a chance to meet his first great grandson and man did he love that boy.  It is an honor to be called his grandson and I am glad that I had the chance to know him well.

Sergeant Buford Hoover
with Mrs. Hoover at Charlie
Company’s Party. Fort Riley,
Kansas – Nov. 1966
Photo courtesy of Mike Cramer
Here’s Sgt. Hoover (below) on break during a
patrol in the Rung Sa & at the right, he’s resting
aboard a Tango back to our barracks ship.
Photos courtesy of Lt. Lynn Hunt – June 16, 2010