At UCLA, he played football most of his college years. He later moved to baseball in his junior year, and became a catcher for the baseball team, playing alongside Jackie Robinson. He still played in football, and participated in the Rose Bowl in his Senior year.
When World War II broke out, Compton had been in ROTC, and after the Rose Bowl, was sent to Columbus, Georgia where he went through OCS at Fort Benning. After graduating from OCS in 1943, he was assigned to the 176th Infantry Regiment, which was operating at Benning. He originally instructed flight classes, but was then assigned to the Regiment's baseball team. However, he wanted to get to the war soon, and signed up for the Paratroopers, which was one of the two ways a member of the regimental baseball team could be transferred (the other was to attend flight training). He went through jump school at Benning, qualified, and completed training at Camp Mackall with the 515th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 17th Airborne Division.
Compton was then transferred to Easy Company, part of the 506th PIR in the 101st Airborne, at Aldbourne, England. He was given the duty of assistant platoon leader of 2nd Platoon. He got along well with the enlisted men and hung out with them more than he did with the officers. This bothered Lt. Richard Winters, who advised him not to get too familiar with the enlisted men, as a leader should never allow himself to be in a position where he could take anything from those under him.
Compton participated in Operation Overlord on 6 June 1944 in Normandy, France. He lost his Carbine during the jump, but was able to acquire one from the injured Lieutenant McMillan of D Company.
After meeting up at his DZ, Compton was assigned to participate in the Brecourt Manor Assault, led by Lieutenant Winters. After throwing grenades into a trench, he tried to shoot a German service member, only to discover that the pin had broken. He saved Sgt. Guarnere, who shot one German service member, prompting the other to flee. As the soldier ran away, Compton killed him with a grenade to the head. He was later joined by Lt. Bob Brewer (of HQ Company), who ducked into a hole along with Compton.
The attack ended in success, with only 4 dead and 6 wounded. Buck was awarded a Silver Star for these actions.
Compton fought through the rest of the Normandy Campaign and returned to Aldbourne, where he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant and made commander of 2nd Platoon.
Compton fought at the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne.
In 1946, he turned down an offer to play minor league baseball, choosing instead to concentrate on a career in law. Compton married Donna Newman in October 1947 and the couple adopted two children. He attended Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1946 and became a detective in the Central Burglary Division. He left the LAPD for the District Attorney's office in 1951 as a deputy district attorney, and was promoted in 1964 to chief deputy district attorney.
During his time with the District Attorney's office, he successfully prosecuted Sirhan Sirhan for the murder of Robert F. Kennedy. In 1970, Governor Ronald Reagan appointed him an Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal. He retired from the bench in 1990 and resided in the state of Washington until his death.
Failing health and death
In January 2012, Compton suffered a heart attack. On 25 February 2012, he died at one of his daughters' home in Washington. His wife Donna preceded him in death in 1994. Buck Compton was survived by two daughters and four grandchildren.
- Compton p. 60