Last Surviving American WWI Vet, Dies at Age 110
Frank Buckles (pictured l. in his 1917 enlistment photo) died at the age of 110, almost three years after becoming the last surviving American WWI veteran.
New York Daily News via YellowBrix
February 28, 2011
CHARLES TOWN, W. VA – A chapter of American History has officially closed.
Frank Buckles, the last surviving American veteran of World War I, died of natural causes Sunday at the age of 110 in his Charles Town, W. Va., home, a family spokesman said in a statement.
Eager to serve his country and escape the tedium of farm life in Missouri, Buckles told the Daily News in 2008 that he lied about his age to enlist.
He was 16 when he shipped off to France in 1917 to join the ambulance corps with the serial No. 15577 — one of 4.7 million Americans to serve in “The War to End All Wars” against Germany.
“I always knew I’d be one of the last because I was one of the youngest when I joined,” Buckles said in his interview with the Daily News, after he became the last surviving member of those 4.7 million.
“But I never thought I’d be the last one.”
Even after the war, Buckles couldn’t escape the battlefield. In 1941, Buckles was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines while working as a purser for a steamship company. He languished for more than three years in prison camps before he was rescued in a military raid.
“I was never actually looking for adventure,” Buckles once told The Associated Press. “It just came to me.”
He also wasn’t looking for the fame that came his way in 2008, when the second-to-last American veteran of World War I, Harry Richard Landis of Florida, passed away. But once he achieved the status of last surviving veteran, Buckles helped lobby to rededicate the existing District of Columbia World War I memorial on the National Mall in Washington as a national memorial.
With Buckles’ passing, there are only two documented surviving veterans of The Great War left – 109-year-old Claude Choules and 110-year-old Florence Green, both of whom are British.
“Somebody has to pass it down. If I’m the last one, then I have to be the one to do it,” Buckles told The News.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/02/28/2011-02-28_frank_buckles_oldest_surviving_american_wwi_vet_dies_at_age_110_.html#ixzz1FHGGwVXV