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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Archie Buckley: Star athlete, coach, war hero

Many young men and women have gone from the playing fields of high school to serve their country in times of conflict. Some have made the ultimate sacrifice.  Archie Buckley was one of those.


Archie was born and raised in Colville. He graduated from Colville High in 1926, where he was a star three-sport athlete. Following high school, he attended Washington State College where he played third base on the baseball team, forward in basketball and quarterback on the football team.

The high point of his college career was quarterbacking the Cougar football team to a come from behind  20-13 victory over the University of Washington in 1929. At the end of the season he was awarded the J. Fred Bohler award for his inspirational play.

After college, and following a brief stint as football coach at Chehalis, Archie moved to North Central, where he began an illustrious career coaching baseball, basketball and football. During that time he was also a Pacific Coast conference official in both basketball and football.

In 1943, with the country fighting on two fronts in World War II, Archie took a leave of absence from NC and joined the Navy. He was at first in charge of physical conditioning at St. Mary’s Pre-flight School in California, and later assigned duty aboard the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga in the South Pacific.

On Feb. 21, 1945, the Saratoga was heading to join the forces attacking Iwo Jima. Under a Japanese kamikaze air attack, the Saratoga sustained five direct bomb hits and 123 of the crew were left dead or missing. Archie was among the missing and his body was never recovered.  Surviving crew members said his actions during the battle saved the lives of several men.

Lieutenant Archie Buckley was awarded the Bronze Star, Navy Cross and Purple Heart and is remembered in memorials in Hawaii and Colville. He was inducted into the Washington State Hall of Fame in 1984.

"If ever a coach lived who felt the pain and delight of his charges, who scaled the heights with them and descended with them to the depths, it was the fiery mentor from North Central High School," wrote The Spokane Daily Chronicle.  

For a few years after his passing, North Central remembered him with an annual award given in his name to an athlete whom their teammates felt best exemplified the accomplishments of their coach, Archie Buckley.

Bill Pierce
Bill Pierce is a sports blogger who writes the weekly nwprepsnow prep sports almanac.

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