Staff Sergeant Herman Richard “Buck” Bouton was assigned to the 59th Coast Artillery Regiment. He was taken prisoner with the surrender of Allied forces in the Philippines. He, along with 1800 other POW’s, were loaded aboard the Japanese Hell Ship Arisan Maru. On 24 October 1944 the USS Shark torpedoed the Arisan Maru, not knowing it had POW’s aboard, and only nine survived.

He is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, Philippines.

He was not married but was one of 5 brothers and 2 sisters (my grandmother was his sister).
–Submitted by his grandniece, Kimberly Daniel

Staff Sergeant Herman “Buck” Richard Bouton, Service Number 1308090

Herman was born in Sullivan County, Tennessee in May 1899. Right before he turned one year of age, his family moved to Washington County, Tennessee. First to the Gray Community and then to Johnson City. He enlisted in the Army National Guard in Johnson City on 22 June 1916 and was assigned to Company F, 3rd Infantry, Tennessee Army National Guard as a Private.

The 3rd Infantry after being called to active service in the United States Army on 25 July 1917 would soon become part of the 117th Infantry Regiment, 59th Infantry Brigade, 30th Division. Herman was also promoted to Private First Class this same day. They were dispatched to and arrived Camp Sevier, Greenville, South Carolina for training on 8 September. There they would join units from North and South Carolina, as well as those from Tennessee to form the core of the 30th Division, later known as the Old Hickory Division in honor of General and President Andrew Jackson. The four upper Northeast Tennessee Guard Units: Company E (Hampton, Carter County); Company F (Johnson City, Washington County); Company G (Elizabethton, Carter County) and Company H (Bristol, Sullivan County) would make up the 2nd Battalion of the 117th.

Herman departed Camp Sevier on 5 May 1918 with Company F for Camp Mills, Long Island, New York via train to await transportation overseas. While there they were outfitted with new uniforms, weapons and equipment they would need in France. Herman along with others were given leave and for days afterwards and on the ship nursed sore necks from the hours they spent looking at all the tall skyscrapers of New York City. After boarding the SS Northumberland in Brooklyn, New York, they set off for Liverpool, England on 11 May and arrived on 23 May. After disembarking the ship he and the four infantry regiments of the 30th Division boarded troop trains and were taken to the port cities of Dover and Folkestone for the channel crossing over the next couple of days. Herman and his company arrived the port city of Calais, France on the 25th. As the 30th Division piecemealed into France just as they had done into England, they were taken to Audruicq by train and marched the short distance to the various towns and villages known as the Eperlecques Training Area in France. He was billeted with the 117th at Nortbecourt and began Phase “A” Training with the British 39th Division on 10 June 1918.

Phase “A” was to be completed on 10 July, but was extended to the morning of 16 July. Phase “B” began the same day for the 30th Division with a three day march into Belgium. Upon arriving the Poperinghe Area, the 117th was billeted in one of the numerous camps and were intergraded over the next month into actual battlefield operations and trench warfare conditions with active combat units. Phase “B” was completed on 10 August and Phase “C” the last training phase was cancelled and the 30th were declared combat ready. Operational orders came in on the 14th and the 30th Division was to relieve the British 33rd Division starting the night of 16 August in the Canal Sector near Ypres, Belgium. The Ypres-Lys Offensive began on 19 August 1918 and the 30th would be in the thick of the fighting to the very end of the war.

Herman and the 30th were given a breathing spell after being relieved from the Ypres-Lys Offensive on 5 September 1918 and were entrained to the St. Pol area and companies F, G & H of the 117th were billeted at Beauvois, France to resupply, do some more training and get a little rest from all the heavy artillery explosions. On the 17th the 30th Division made the move to the Puchevillers Area where they would come under the control of the 4th British Army on the 21st as would the American 27th Division to join in the Somme Offensive, also known as the One Hundred Day Offensive.

It was during this offense that Herman really showed his worth and his leadership abilities. He was rewarded with a promotion to Corporal on 26 October and given charge of a squad. Herman participated in two Unit Campaigns: Ypres-Lys Offensive in Belgium and the Somme Offensive in France. He also fought in the Battle of Bellicourt on the Hindenburg Line, the Battle of Montbrehain and the Battle of La Selle River.

The Great War pretty much ended with the signing of the cease fire (Armistice) at 5am on 11 November 1918, but fierce fighting still continued for few more hours. The Armistice went into effect at 11am and all the guns on the western front went silent and the 30th went into rest status.

Herman returned back to the United States aboard the USS Pocahontas when she embarked on 16 March 1919 from the port at Saint Nazaire, France. She arrived the port of Charleston, South Carolina on 28 March to great fanfare. Herman participated along with the rest of the 117th Infantry Regiment in Welcome Home parades in Tennessee at Knoxville on 5 April, Nashville on 6 April and Chattanooga on 8 April. Afterwards the regiment was dispatched to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia where they were mustered out. Herman received his honorable discharge on 15 April and returned home to Johnson City to even more fanfare.

It wouldn’t be long until Herman got itchy feet and reenlisted in the United States Army…

Herman’s the son of Charles “Charley” Benton Bouton and Martha “Mattie” Ellen Campbell. His brother Howard H. Bouton served in the United States Army during World War II.

Submitted by Allen D. Jackson, USAF (Ret)

  • Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Date of birth:
  • 3 November 1895
  • Date of death: 24 October 1944
  • County: Washington
  • Hometown: Johnson City
  • Service Branch: Army/Army Air Forces
  • Division/Assignment: 59th Coast Artrillery Regiment
  • Theater: Pacific
  • Conflict: World War II
  • Awards: Purple Heart
  • Burial/Memorial Location: Manila American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines
  • Location In Memorial: Pillar XIX, Top Panel
  • Contact us to sponsor Herman R. Bouton

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