Collegiate sports star. Esteemed war veteran. Detective. Attorney. Judge. Lt. Lynn “Buck” Compton, 85, serves as an example of a true American hero. As a college athlete, Compton competed alongside legends such as Jackie Robinson. Among combat veterans, Lt. Lynn “Buck” Compton’s name and autograph are recognized internationally along with Dick Winters, “Wild” Bill Guarnere, and Don Malarkey. As a public servant, Compton’s name will forever be associated with high profile cases.
Born Dec. 31, 1921, Compton grew up in the Great Depression. He graduated from public high school in Los Angeles and attended UCLA in the fall of 1939 where he majored in Physical Education with a minor in Education. He lettered two years in football and three years in baseball and was captain of the baseball team where he played catcher. Compton played guard on the Rose Bowl team in 1943. He was a member of the advanced ROTC program and served as Cadet Executive Officer to Cadet Commander John Singlaub (today Major General, U.S. Army, Retired).
World War II disrupted his studies at UCLA. Compton graduated from the school’s ROTC program and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He commanded the second platoon of Easy Company in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Division. He parachuted into Normandy during the early hours of D-Day, was part of the assault group that destroyed the German artillery during the battle at Brecourt Manor, fought on the line at Carentan, helped liberate Holland during Operation Market Garden, and fought in the freezing cold of the Battle of Bastogne.
As a combat veteran, Lt. Compton received the Silver Star, for valor in the face of the enemy, the Purple Heart, for being wounded while in the U.S. military, the World War II Victory Medal, for active duty during World War II, the Orange Lanyard of the Royal Netherlands Army, for bravery, leadership and loyalty in the defense of the Netherlands, the Combat Infantry Badge, the American Campaign Citation, the American Defense Medal, and the European, African Mid-Eastern Campaign Medal. Compton, along with his unit, was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism against an armed enemy when holding the main line of resistance during the Battle of the Bulge.
Following the war, Compton worked his way through Loyola Law School as a policeman for the LAPD, and later as a detective in the Central Burglary Division. He was admitted to the California Bar in 1949.
He served as Deputy District Attorney for LA County, 1951-1970, and had extensive trial experience involving the prosecution of major felony cases of all types. As Chief Deputy District Attorney, he served as second in command of LA County, the largest prosecuting agency in the world. Compton handled a number of high profile cases, including the prosecution of Sirhan Sirhan for the murder of Robert F. Kennedy.
In 1970, Compton was appointed by Governor Ronald Reagan to the California Courts of Appeal as an Associate Justice. During his term on the bench, Judge Compton authored more than 2,000 written opinions in all areas of law.
Compton was portrayed by actor Neal McDonough in the acclaimed HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.
A widower since 1994, Compton lives in the Pacific Northwest today where he stays in close contact with his two children and four grandchildren. Compton is a sought-after speaker, and in his spare time provides policy and political commentary on a radio station based in Anacortes.
[above photo, Lt. Lynn "Buck" Compton,
Burlington, Washington, October 2007,
photo c. 2007 Mary Margaret Brotherton]