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Dr. Harold L. Buell

Dr. Harold L. Buell, CDR USN (Ret), 94, of Fuquay Varina, NC died peacefully on Aug 14, 2014. He was born in Keokuk, Iowa on November 4, 1919 to Waldo E. Buell and Gertrude F. Buell. Orphaned as a young child, he was cared for by various relatives and when he was a young man, a local physician in Ottumwa, Iowa was appointed his legal guardian who put him on the path to a gallant and successful career as an Officer and Pilot in the U.S. Navy during WWII. He earned his Navy wings in 1941, one month before Pearl Harbor and flew 3 combat cruises in the Pacific from the celebrated aircraft carriers Yorktown, Saratoga, Enterprise and Hornet. He was present at all five carrier vs. carrier battles: Coral Sea, Midway, Eastern Solomons, Santa Cruz and the first battle of the Philippine Sea, plus a month with the “Cactus Air Force” on Guadalcanal. He saw action in sixteen major engagements. At his death, he was the only carrier pilot alive to have survived all those encounters. He was generally recognized as the only Naval Aviator to complete three full combat tours in World War II. Among his decorations are the Navy Cross, Silver Star, three DFCs, two Purple Hearts and four Presidential Unit Citations. After WWII, he continued his Navy career serving on the Carrier Saipan as Air Boss during the Korean War and in various command rolls until retiring after 21 years of service.

On his return to civilian life he earned his Masters and Ph.D. degrees at Florida State University and completed a second career in education and mental health for the State of Florida. After he retired and while living in Tallahassee, Florida, he authored a book, DAUNTLESS HELLDIVERS, which has been called the most accurate history of the Dive Bomber war in the Pacific.

In November, 2008, he and his wife, Molly, relocated to North Carolina from St. Augustine, Florida to be near their daughter and son-in-law, Cheryle and Bruce Velsor.

He was predeceased by his parents, Waldo and Gertrude Buell, his wife of 52 years, Molly Lang Buell and sisters Edith Newell, Elsie Bryant and Virginia Schmalz. He is survived by three children, five grandchildren, numerous great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

His remains will be interred at San Lorenzo Catholic Cemetery in St. Augustine, FL and a Celebration of Life service to be held in the future at Birmingham United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Iowa. The family wishes to express their gratitude to the incredible staff of Carillon Assisted Living in Fuquay Varina, NC and Transitions Life Care Hospice of Wake County. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation to Hospice of Wake County Foundation.