Missourian included on cover of Time

Tuesday, December 23, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:11 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 14, 2008

KANSAS CITY — Sgt. Ronald Buxton’s family finds it fitting the soldier was picked to represent the American soldier, the Time magazine Person of the Year, on the cover of the publication.

The name of the 32-year-old from Lake Ozark is a tribute to another soldier, slain during World War II.

Like his father before him, Buxton was named after a friend of his grandfather’s who was killed near the spot where his grandfather was standing, said Buxton’s stepmother, Dana Buxton, of Piedmont, Mo.

“They don’t talk about it a whole lot,” Dana Buxton said of the family name. “I have always thought that that was neat. I thought they should look up the guy’s family and say, ‘Did you know this guy’s name is still going on?’ ”

Time magazine bestowed its Person of the Year honor Sunday on the American soldier, who bears the duty of “living with and dying for a country’s most fateful decisions.”

Buxton, who is helping police Iraq, was one of three chosen to personify the magazine’s selection on the cover.

Time’s choice represents the 1.4 million men and women who make up the U.S. military, which led the invasion of Iraq nine months ago and a week ago captured deposed leader Saddam Hussein.

Buxton joined the Army shortly after graduating from St. Elizabeth High School near the Lake of the Ozarks in 1989. The teenager, who had an interest in computers, wasn’t sure what to do with his life. He turned to the Army.

He served his first tour in Germany, Dana Buxton said. Upon returning to the United States, he joined the Army Reserves. He met his wife, Audrey, who had just joined the Army, at a training camp.

When she was shipped to Germany, he decided to re-enlist. He returned to Germany, where he has managed to learn German. And now he is learning Arabic. Buxton has been in Iraq since May. He is helping police Baghdad, although that isn’t what he was trained to do. But Buxton doesn’t complain to his family.

“He sees a great deal of progress,” Dana Buxton said.

In February, Buxton is scheduled to return to the United States for a stint at Fort Riley in Kansas.

For now, the Time honor will serve as a welcome distraction from the work to keep peace in Iraq. Buxton called his stepmother Sunday afternoon to discuss the big news. Though the connection was bad, it was clear the soldier was proud, Dana Buxton said.

“He felt it was an honor for the troops,” she said, “and he was very pleased the troops were being honored on the cover.”

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