James Ernest "Buck" Karnes
Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company D, 117th Infantry, 30th Division. For actions near Estrees, France.
October 08, 1918
Born in 1889, in Arlington, TN, Karnes entered service at Knoxville.
Knoxville native James Ernest "Buck" Karnes and Morristown native Calvin Ward rallied the 117th Infantry in a charge that broke the Hindenburg Line and forced the Germans into a retreat. Both Tennesseans not only received the Congressional Medal of Honor for their actions, but each returned home holding one medal more than the famous Alvin York.
On October 8, 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, their company was held up near Estrees, France, by a German machinegun position. As the machinegun raked the line with gunfire, Karnes and Ward decided they had "had all they could take." They fixed bayonets, charged the position, killed three and captured seven of the enemy and their machineguns. This heroic action freed their company to advance against German lines in the war’s last major offensive.
Citation: During an advance, his company was held up by a machinegun, which was enfilading the line. Accompanied by another soldier, he advanced against this position and succeeded in reducing the nest by killing 3 and capturing 7 of the enemy and their guns.
The Alcoa Highway (U.S. Route 129) bridge over the Tennessee River in Knoxville is named for Buck Karnes.