Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Spencer Kirkpatrick was born in Oklahoma City, May 15, 1901, the son of the late Doctor E. E. Kirkpatrick and Mrs. E. E. Kirkpatrick, now residing in Oklahoma City.
He attended elementary and high school in Oklahoma City where he was prominent in athletics and other school activities. He was appointed to West Point in 1920 and graduated as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry with “The Thundering Herd”—class of 1924.
“Buffalo”, as he was known by his many friends, was not satisfied with experiences gained in one branch, but tried several. His first station was with the 2d Infantry at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. He then served with the Military Police at Quarry Heights, Canal Zone, then as an Air Corps student officer at Brooks Field, Texas, and then with the Indian Infantry Battalion at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where he saw active service with the Border Patrol.
In 1930 he transferred to the Coast Artillery Corps and was stationed at Fort MacArthur, California, and then attended the Coast Artillery School at Fort Monroe, Virginia, in 1931-1932.
At the end of the school year he married Miss Elizabeth Boyer Cacy and after a honeymoon in Oklahoma, Colorado, and California went to the Hawaiian Department where he was stationed at Fort Kamehameha. Upon return in 1935 he was assigned to the 8th Coast Artillery at Fort Preble, Maine, where he was Battery Commander and Post Adjutant. While at Fort Preble he demonstrated marked ability in command duties and in the gunnery of seacoast and anti-aircraft guns and submarine mines.
In January of 1939 he was transferred to the Philippine Department with station at Fort Mills, Corregidor Island, where his varied experience proved invaluable to him in dealing with the Japs.
After his family was evacuated in February, 1941, Colonel Kirkpatrick took command of Fort Drum and prepared it for the oncoming fight. During the battle of Bataan and the siege of Corregidor, Fort Drum under his command stood as a thorn in the side of the Japanese conquest. Though subjected to intense artillery fire and aerial bombing almost daily, this garrison made sufficient repairs at night to be able to reply to the next attack. The heroes of Fort Drum were among the last to be taken by the Japanese.
News of his death in a Japanese prison camp came on September 2, 1943 just a short time after his family had received word from him that he was a prisoner and in good health.
“Buffalo” is survived by his wife and two children, Roy, 8 and Mary, 5. He has three brothers in the Armed Forces— Colonel E. E. Kirkpatrick, C.E., class of ‘29, Lt. Comdr. J. E. Kirkpatrick, Annapolis ‘31 and Lt. Comdr. C. S. Kirkpatrick, Annapolis ‘34, all overseas. His sister is Mrs. J. D. Moorman, wife of Lt. Col. J. D. Moorman, A.C., class of ‘38.
“Buffalo” will be remembered with love and respect as the finest soldier of a family of soldiers and American pioneers. His forebears played their part, and not a small one, in opening new frontiers and defending them. His performance was no less than the greatest of theirs.
“Buffalo” will also be remembered as a kindly and devoted husband and father. Quotations from his last letters, to his daughter, “Remain as lovely as you are in my dreams,” and to his son, “Grow into a fine big boy and when I get home you will have a horse, dog, and me for a pal” indicate in a small way the great success he had in being a husband, a father, and a strong Christian character, as well as an outstanding soldier.