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James Ernest Karnes
Born (1889-07-20)July 20, 1889
Died July 8, 1966(1966-07-08) (aged 76)
Place of birth Arlington, Tennessee
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Rank Sergeant
Unit U.S. 117th Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars World War I
*Meuse-Argonne Offensive
Awards MOH WWI.jpg Medal of Honor
Silver Star ribbon.svg Silver Star

James Ernest "Buck" Karnes was a Sergeant in the United States Army who received the Medal of Honor for his actions near Estrees, France on October 8, 1918 during World War I.


James Ernest "Buck" Karnes (July 20, 1889–July 8, 1966), was born in Arlington, Tennessee and grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee. Karnes entered active duty with the United States Army's 117th Regiment from the Tennessee National Guard during World War I. On October 8, 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Karnes' company 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.

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

Medal of Honor citation[]

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company D, 117th Infantry, 30th Division. Place and date: Near Estrees, France, October 8, 1918. Entered service at: Knoxville, Tenn. Born: 1889, Arlington, Tenn. G.O. No.: 50, W.D., 1919. 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.

See also[]


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