Bill Buck, Local War Hero & Carver, Was Saved By The Original Iditarod Serum Run

The great Iditarod Sled Dog Race is actually a race commemorating courage and personal responsibility in stopping a diphtheria epidemic in ...

The great Iditarod Sled Dog Race is actually a race commemorating courage and personal responsibility in stopping a diphtheria epidemic in Nome.


The late Bill Buck, husband of Millie Buck, was a child in Nome during the epidemic, which was killing children there.


Bill Buck at AFN Convention (Country Journal File Photo)
Mail runs, which had been performed by relays of dog mushers, passing the mail from one remote village to another, had been replaced by small planes. But in the winter of December, 1924, the planes couldn't fly. Diphtheria serum was brought by boat to Seward, put on a train to Nenana, wrapped in a blanket, and freighted by dog team relays across Alaska to Nome, where it arrived frozen solid – and saved the lives of Nome's children.

One of the people saved was Bill Buck. Bill went on to work with American soldiers in World War II as a guide. He came to the Copper Valley, where he married into a Chitina family. He was a carver and artist. 

Bill Buck's life was meaningful and important.  He died in 2011, and military personnel from all over Alaska honored him at his funeral. 

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