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First Name: James

Last Name: Karnes

Birthplace: Arlington, TN, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Ernest

Date of Birth: 20 July 1889

Date of Death: 08 July 1966

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served:
James Ernest Karnes


James Ernest Karnes

Sergeant, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War I

Sergeant James Ernest "Buck" Karnes (20 July 1889 - 8 July 1966) was a U.S. Army soldier who received the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War I.

James Ernest "Buck" Karnes, was born on 20 July 1889 in Arlington, TN, and grew up in Knoxville, TN. Karnes entered active duty with the Army's 117th Regiment from the Tennessee National Guard during World War I. On 8 October 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Karnes' Company D was stopped near Estrées, France, by a German machine gun position. Karnes and Private Calvin John Ward, deciding they had "had all they could take" of this situation, fixed bayonets, charged and captured the position. This freed their company to advance against German lines in the last major offensive of the war. Both men received the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism in this action.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company D, 117th Infantry, 30th Division.

Place and date: Near Estrees, France, 8 October 1918.

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.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Silver Star


The Alcoa Highway (U.S. Route 129) bridge over the Tennessee River in Knoxville is named after Karnes.

Death and Burial

Sergeant James Ernest "Buck" Karnes died on 8 July 1966. He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Knoxville, TN.

Honoree ID: 1780   Created by: MHOH




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