Buck Rogers in the 25th Century Wiki
Return of the Fighting 69th
Season 1, Episode 8
Return of the Fighting 69th title card
Air date October 25, 1979
Written by David Carren
Directed by Philip Leacock
Episode guide
The Plot to Kill a City, Part II
Unchained Woman

"Return of the Fighting 69th" is the eighth episode of the 1st season of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.


A large space freighter is flying toward Necrosis, a massive asteroid belt, a belt where the floating debris is unusually tightly packed. The ship has been stolen from Earth and Colonel Wilma Deering and Captain Buck Rogers have been ordered to pursue the ship with two cadets, Clayton and Westlake, who were undergoing training - a fact that irks Buck because of the rawness of the two rookies (shown when Buck has to order them to stay off their communications). When Wilma realizes the stolen freighter is heading toward Necrosis 4, the largest body in the asteroid belt, she orders the small phalanx to accelerate, but they are promptly jumped by four Scorpion-class fightercraft emerging from the belt. Two Scorpion fighters are shot down, but the two cadets recklessly plunge into the asteroid belt and promptly slam into one of the mammoth rocks, destroying them both.

While Buck and Wilma return to Earth, the freighter reaches Necrosis 4, a base operated by two gunrunners and their small army. Roxanne Trent is one of them and she enters her quarters; she has a mute slave girl, Alicia, who hides a memory globe containing imagery of her family. Trent brusquely orders Alicia to brush her hair while she opens a bottle of perfume. She drops the bottle and reveals the crude metallic appendage that is now her hand - the result of combat with Colonel Deering three years earlier where her ship was hit and fire mutilated her husband and fellow gunrunner, Commander Corliss. When Roxanne notices Alicia staring, she grabs the servant girl, seething with anger and thinking her slave was smiling.

But they are interrupted by word that Corliss has returned, and Roxanne proceeds to the main command chamber where she and Corliss embrace, confident that the stores aboard the freighter - metal canisters of nerve gas uncovered from an arsenal near the remains of Washington DC - will succeed in killing the entire population of the planet.

This fact is revealed to Buck in Dr. Huer's office after he angrilly chews out Huer and Wilma over the deaths of the two cadets. Huer shows a video inventory of the freighter's stock of nerve gas shells and Buck realizes one can be detonated in the atmosphere and will kill everyone inside of a week. Huer also reveals the involvement of Corliss and Trent and their personal motivation of revenge on Wilma. He also notes there is one who can navigate the asteroid belt even better than Corliss - Major Noah Cooper, a space Marine pilot whose squadron, the 69th, was forcibly retired by Wilma the previous year. Wilma, who loves Noah like a father and was trained by him in flying, objects, but is overruled by Huer.

Buck and Wilma find Noah and his pilots - Harriet and Eli Twain, Big Red MacMurthy, and M.K. Schultz. Though they still love Wilma, they initially reject her request to help destroy Corliss' base, until Buck forcefully notes they would be sacrificing Earth over what Wilma did in the line of duty. Noah and the 69th thus agree, and plot to use 30-year old space cargo sleds converted to starbelly bombers fitted with rear defense laser turrets, identical to ones used in previous attacks on Necrosis 4.

The pilots train the next day with little success, and Wilma refuses to go on the mission, fearing for their lives, until Buck shames her into joining by noting she's not being fair to them. But as they proceed through the belt, they are attacked by Corliss' Scorpion fighters; three are shot down but Buck and Wilma's craft is captured and taken to Necrosis 4.

While Noah and the others hide out in the asteroid belt, Corliss and Roxanne meet Wilma and Buck. Alicia, realizing the two strangers are enemies of Corliss and Trent, communicates to Buck via sign language (to which Buck has great fluency due to being taught it by a girlfriend before the space mission that would cast him 504 years into the future). Corliss and Trent vow to burn them alive with a torch, but Buck and Wilma attack as Noah is finally persuaded to finish the mission and thus emerges his two bombers back onto course for the base; guards take Buck and Wilma to a holding cell while Corliss' remaining fighters vainly intercept Noah's squadron.

Alicia finds her way to the holding cell; via sign language she tells Buck to distract the guards while she creates a distraction; Wilma's shapely feminine appeal does just that and Alicia uses a large metal pole to shatter an electrical grid, then grab the energy key to the cell and free the two prisoners; Buck and Wilma overpower the guards, grab their uniforms, and make their way to the flight bay but are intercepted by Corliss and Trent just as Big Red and Schultz dive underneath Necrosis 4's grid of antiassault laser batteries and launch the first warhead at the base; the warhead misses the main target but the explosion rocks the mammoth base enough for Buck to notice an extra item from the stores of 20th century weapons - a 30-caliber machine gun with full belt of ammo. Buck blasts away and thus is able to escape with Wilma and Alicia while shutting off the door to the command chamber - just as Noah, recalling Big Red and Schultz, flies his bomber on its run to finish off the embattled base.[1]


Gun runners named Roxanne Trent and Commander Corliss plan to kill Colonel Wilma as part of their revenge for her capturing them years earlier, during which their ship had caught fire and disfigured them both. Their plans involve the use of captured 20th century nerve gas, which is still potent enough to destroy all life on Earth. As commander of the Defense squadron, Wilma must find a way to locate and destroy the gas, which is hidden at the gun runner's hideout inside the Necrosis asteroid belt.

She discovers that the only one who has knowledge of how to traverse the belt is Major Noah Cooper, an old friend of Wilma's father, and the elderly leader of a retired squadron, the Fighting 69th. Although the pilot is willing to lead his old pilots through the asteroids, Wilma does not know whether or not she should ask him, believing that the age of his squadron may be too great to complete the mission.




Episode Cast[]

  • Gil Gerard as Capt. William "Buck" Rogers
  • Erin Gray as Col. Wilma Deering
  • Tim O'Connor as Dr. Elias Huer
  • Peter Graves as Major Noah Cooper
  • Elizabeth Allen as Roxanne Trent
  • Robert Quarry as Commander Corliss
  • Woody Strode as Sgt. "Big Red" MacMurphy
  • Eddie Firestone as Corporal M.K. Schultz
  • K.T. Stevens as Lt. Harriet Twain
  • Felix Silla as Twiki
  • Mel Blanc as Voice of Twiki
  • Katherine Wiberg as Alicia
  • Robert Hardy as Clayton
  • Duncan McKenzie as Westlake
  • Clifford Turknett as War Technician
  • Dan Sturkie as Eli Twain
  • William Conrad as Voice of Narrator (uncredited)
  • Eric Server as Voice of Dr. Theopolis (uncredited)

Episode Crew[]

  • Directed by Philip Leacock
  • Written by David Carren
  • Produced by Jock Gaynor, Medora Heilbron, Bruce Lansbury, Glen A. Larson, David J. O'Connell and David G. Phinney
  • Music by Johnny Harris
  • Cinematography by Ben Colman
  • Film Editor - Michael Berman
  • Casting - Phil Benjamin
  • Art Director - Fred Luff, III
  • Set Decorator - Frank Lombardo
  • Costume Designer - Sal Anthony

Production Management[]

  • Harker Wade - Unit Production Manager

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director[]

  • Bob Bender - First Assistant Director
  • Gerald T. Olson - Second Assistant Director

Art Department[]

  • Jerry Allen - Model Builder
  • Ted Wilson - Carpenter (uncredited)

Sound Department[]

  • Earl Crain, Jr. - Sound
  • Dick Wahrman - Sound Effects Editor

Special Effects[]

  • Chuck Arrigo - Special Effects Coordinator (uncredited)

Visual Effects[]

  • Peter Anderson - Visual Effects Supervisor: Universal Hartland
  • David M. Garber - Miniature Effects
  • Wayne Smith - Miniature Effects

Camera and Electrical Department[]

  • Gary Armstrong - Assistant Camera
  • Kenneth Hale - First Assistant Camera

Music Department[]

  • Glen A. Larson - Composer: Theme Music
  • Herbert D. Woods - Music Editor
  • Johnny Harris - Composer: Theme Music (uncredited)
  • Stu Phillips - Composer: Theme Music (uncredited)

Transportation Department[]

  • Chris Haynes - Driver (uncredited)

Additional Crew[]

  • Alan Brennert - Story Editor
  • Anne Collins - Story Consultant


External link[]

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century - Season 1
Awakening I Planet of the Slave Girls I Vegas in Space I The Plot to Kill a City, Part I I The Plot to Kill a City, Part II I Return of the Fighting 69th I Unchained Woman I Planet of the Amazon Women I Cosmic Whiz Kid I Escape from Wedded Bliss I Cruise Ship to the Stars I Space Vampire I Happy Birthday, Buck I A Blast for Buck I Ardala Returns I Twiki is Missing I Olympiad I A Dream of Jennifer I Space Rockers I Buck's Duel to the Death I Flight of the War Witch