You always remember people who show no fear of whatever comes their way, and who step up to the challenge when most fall back. Warren “Buzz” Whitmire, Jr. was one of those types of people, always running to the next obstacle.
Born December 2, 1945 in Fairfax, Virginia, Buzz knew of military leadership from a young age. His father was a Colonel in the United States Air Force, which meant Buzz and his family moved quite often to different places throughout the United States as well as Europe. Deciding to follow in his father’s footsteps, Buzz enlisted in the Air Force after high school.
In March 1968, Buzz was now a Warrant Officer and was deployed to a far off country called Vietnam. While there, he volunteered to fly the OH-6A Cayuse. These aircrafts, known as ‘loaches’, usually flew low to help find enemy positions in order to call in an attack force. For all intents and purposes, Buzz was the bait.
On May 1, 1968, Buzz went on a reconnaissance mission searching for missing infantrymen while trying to reveal enemy locations. From an eyewitness account, Buzz inaudibly yelled through the radio and by the time another soldier looked to the helicopter, it clipped a dead tree while dodging enemy ground fire. The loach started to spin and dropped into the thick tree line below. A rescue team was sent to locate the aircraft but to no avail. Buzz’s body has never been recovered.
Buzz’s story and all Virginia heroes are honored and remembered at the Virginia War Memorial.