View Full Version : Last veteran of WWI dies in W. Va. at age 110

02-28-2011, 10:59 AM
The last page of that chapter of our history has been turned.
God speed to you sir.

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Frank Buckles was repeatedly rejected by military recruiters and got into uniform at 16 after lying about his age. He would later become the last surviving U.S. veteran of World War I.

Buckles, who also survived being a civilian POW in the Philippines in World War II, died of natural causes Sunday at his home in Charles Town, biographer and family spokesman David DeJonge said. He was 110.

Buckles would have wanted people to remember him as "the last torchbearer" for World War I, DeJonge said Monday.

Buckles had been advocating for a national memorial honoring veterans of the Great War in the nation's capital and asked about its progress weekly, sometimes daily.

"He was sad it's not completed," DeJonge said. "It's a simple straightforward thing to do, to honor Americans."

When asked in February 2008 how it felt to be the last of his kind, he said simply, "I realized that somebody had to be, and it was me." And he told The Associated Press he would have done it all over again, "without a doubt."

On Nov. 11, 2008, the 90th anniversary of the end of the war, Buckles attended a ceremony at the grave of World War I Gen. John Pershing in Arlington National Cemetery.

He was back in Washington a year later to endorse a proposal to rededicate the existing World War I memorial on the National Mall as the official National World War I Memorial. He told a Senate panel it was "an excellent idea." The memorial was originally built to honor District of Columbia's war dead.

Born in Missouri in 1901 and raised in Oklahoma, Buckles visited a string of military recruiters after the United States entered the "war to end all wars" in April 1917. He was repeatedly rejected before convincing an Army captain he was 18. He was actually 16 1/2.

"A boy of (that age), he's not afraid of anything. He wants to get in there," Buckles said.

Details for services and arrangements will be announced later this week, but DeJonge said Buckles' daughter, Susannah Flanagan, is planning for burial in Arlington National Cemetery. In 2008, friends persuaded the federal government to make an exception to its rules and allow his burial there.

Buckles had already been eligible to have his cremated remains housed at the cemetery. To be buried underground, however, he would have had to meet several criteria, including earning one of five medals, such as a Purple Heart.

Buckles never saw combat but joked, "Didn't I make every effort?"

The family asked that donations be made to the National World War One Legacy Project. The project is managed by the nonprofit Survivor Quest and will educate students about Buckles and WWI through a documentary and traveling educational exhibition.

More than 4.7 million people joined the U.S. military from 1917-18. As of spring 2007, only three were still alive, according to a tally by the Department of Veterans Affairs: Buckles, J. Russell Coffey of Ohio and Harry Richard Landis of Florida.

The dwindling roster prompted a flurry of public interest, and Buckles went to Washington in May 2007 to serve as grand marshal of the national Memorial Day parade.

Coffey died Dec. 20, 2007, at age 109, while Landis died Feb. 4, 2008, at 108. Unlike Buckles, those two men were still in basic training in the United States when the war ended and did not make it overseas.

The last known Canadian veteran of the war, John Babcock of Spokane, Wash., died in February 2010.

There are no French or German veterans of the war left alive.

Buckles served in England and France, working mainly as a driver and a warehouse clerk. An eager student of culture and language, he used his off-duty hours to learn German, visit cathedrals, museums and tombs, and bicycle in the French countryside.

After Armistice Day, Buckles helped return prisoners of war to Germany. He returned to the United States in January 1920.

Buckles returned to Oklahoma for a while, then moved to Canada, where he worked a series of jobs before heading for New York City. There, he again took advantage of free museums, worked out at the YMCA, and landed jobs in banking and advertising.

But it was the shipping industry that suited him best, and he worked around the world for the White Star Line Steamship Co. and W.R. Grace & Co.

In 1941, while on business in the Philippines, Buckles was captured by the Japanese. He spent more than three years in prison camps.

"I was never actually looking for adventure," Buckles once said. "It just came to me."

He married in 1946 and moved to his farm in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle in 1954, where he and wife Audrey raised their daughter. Audrey Buckles died in 1999.

In spring 2007, Buckles told the AP of the trouble he went through to get into the military.

"I went to the state fair up in Wichita, Kansas, and while there, went to the recruiting station for the Marine Corps," he said. "The nice Marine sergeant said I was too young when I gave my age as 18, said I had to be 21."

Buckles returned a week later.

"I went back to the recruiting sergeant, and this time I was 21," he said with a grin. "I passed the inspection ... but he told me I just wasn't heavy enough."

Then he tried the Navy, whose recruiter told Buckles he was flat-footed.

Buckles wouldn't quit. In Oklahoma City, an Army captain demanded a birth certificate.

"I told him birth certificates were not made in Missouri when I was born, that the record was in a family Bible. I said, 'You don't want me to bring the family Bible down, do you?'" Buckles said with a laugh. "He said, 'OK, we'll take you.'"

He enlisted Aug. 14, 1917, serial number 15577.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc. .

02-28-2011, 12:53 PM
My now long-departed grandfather was a doughboy in that war as well. RIP to this gentleman.

One thing Beck gets right is that Wilson's war (no, not THAT one!), and the modern versions of it (fighting wars to make the world 'safe' for 'democracy'), are idealistic monstrosities. As LBJ did, Wilson won election on the fact that he 'kept us out of war,' only to then GET us into war, against the will of the people and our best interests. For very important reasons, no doubt, but still...

02-28-2011, 01:49 PM
My great grandfather was there. Never had the chance to meet him.

He was a horticulrualist. I have a newspaper somewhere that has pictures of him making the desert bloom. Pretty interesting.

02-28-2011, 05:32 PM
Australia's oldest man and last remaining World War I soldier Jack Ross has died, aged 110.
Mr Ross died peacefully in his sleep at the Golden Oaks Nursing Home in the central Victorian city of Bendigo about 4am this morning.
As an 18-year-old Mr Ross enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in January, 1918 and trained at the wireless training school before he was posted to the 1st Battalion at Broadmeadows camp in Victoria.
But the war ended before he could be posted overseas and he was demobilised on Christmas Eve.
He served Australia again in World War II as a member of the volunteer defence corps.
Mr Ross was awarded the 80th Anniversary Armistice Remembrance medal in 1998 to commemorate the end of WWI.
He also received the Centenary Medal for his contribution to Australian society in the 100 years since federation.
In civilian life Mr Ross worked for the Victorian railways for more than 45 years before retiring in 1964.

02-28-2011, 05:32 PM
Our nation is a little weaker today with this loss.


02-28-2011, 09:54 PM
Was this the very same day?

Thanks for sharing that, mac. Americans know of our national bonds with England, but I think a little less knowledge of how the Aussies have stood with us over decades. Sure, they're a little too spooked up with our intel services in my opinion, formerly running the Echelon and Predator data mining surveillance on us that was illegal for us to do ourselves under US law, until we decided our laws against this didn't matter. But that's another topic for another time.

03-01-2011, 06:15 AM
I forgot to inklood the exakt date -- but it woz in 2009, about june i think.

Which reminds me. I used to spend hours looking into the usofa civil war, which woznt really a civil war at all, the usofa's only civil war being the one with england in about 1770, which iz never referred to az a civil war, but which iz in fakt the first and only usofa civil war (not important), not counting the indian wars etc etc, and the negro war (still going).
But i woz very interested to learn that the last vet of the 1860 "civil war" died in about 1954.

03-01-2011, 08:46 AM
Par vouz my ozzie friend.

The top 4 were shot in color and converted to B&W with grain added and have been published in CW and RW periodicals.

The bottom 2 were shot in B&W.

The corporal does weapons seminars at recreation events and bills himself as corporal Beuregard Burtout, the last one is an Abe Lincoln impersonator.