February 28, 2011
Last Living U.S. World War I Veteran Passes Away
Frank Buckles, the last living U.S. World War I veteran, has died, a spokesman for his family said Sunday. He was 110. He also spent 3 1/2 years in a Japanese prison camps.
Here is a trailer for a film about him.............."Pershing's Last Patriot....The Cup "
Frank Buckles, who lied about his age to get into uniform during World War I and lived to be the last surviving U.S. veteran of that war, has died. He was 110.
Buckles "died peacefully in his home of natural causes" early Sunday morning, the family said in a statement sent to CNN late Sunday by spokesman David DeJonge.
Buckles marked his 110th birthday on February 1, but his family had earlier told CNN he had slowed considerably since last fall, according his daughter Susannah Buckles Flanagan, who lives at the family home near Charles Town, West Virginia.
Buckles, who served as a U.S. Army ambulance driver in Europe during what became known as the "Great War," rose to the rank of corporal before the war ended. He came to prominence in recent years, in part because of the work of DeJonge, a Michigan portrait photographer who had undertaken a project to document the last surviving veterans of that war.
As the years continued, all but Buckles had passed away, leaving him the "last man standing" among U.S. troops who were called "The Doughboys."
DeJonge found himself the spokesman and advocate for Buckles in his mission to see to it that his comrades were honored with a monument on the National Mall, alongside memorials for veterans of World War II and the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.
Buckles made history when he was asked to testify in Congress on the matter before a House committee on December 3, 2009.
"I have to," he told CNN when he came to Washington, as part of what he considered his responsibility to honor the memory of fellow-veterans.
Buckles, after World War I ended, took up a career as a ship's officer on merchant vessels. He was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines during World War II and held prisoner of war for more than three years before he was freed by U.S. troops.
Never saying much about his POW experience, Buckles instead wanted attention drawn to the plight of the D.C. War Memorial.
Renovations to the structure began last fall, but Buckles, with his health already failing, could not make a trip to Washington to review the improvements. The National Park Service is overseeing efforts that include replacing a neglected walkway and dressing up a deteriorated dome and marble columns.
Details for services and arrangements will be announced in the days ahead, the family statement said.
Flanagan, his daughter, said preliminary plans began weeks ago, with the Military District of Washington expressing its support for an honors burial at Arlington, including an escort platoon, a horse-drawn casket arrival, a band and a firing party.
"It has long been my father's wish to be buried in Arlington, in the same cemetery that holds his beloved General Pershing," Flanagan wrote as she began to prepare for the inevitable in a letter she sent to home-state U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia.
"I feel confident that the right thing will come to pass," she said.
In addition to graveside ceremonies, a proposal from U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, calls for a memorial in the U.S. Capitol, where Buckles' casket would be displayed with honors.
Buckles in 2008 attended Veterans Day ceremonies at Arlington at the grave of Gen. John Pershing, the commander of U.S. troops during World War I.
He also had met with then-President George W. Bush at the White House, and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon.
"The First World War is not well understood or remembered in the United States," Gates said at the time. "There is no big memorial on the National Mall. Hollywood has not turned its gaze in this direction for decades. Yet few events have so markedly shaped the world we live in."
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 16½..
“A boy of [that age], he’s not afraid of anything. He wants to get in there,” Buckles said.
Back when he was onlyh 107 years old he was interviewed. Frank Woodruff Buckles says he feels responsible for keeping the story of World War I alive.
Wild Thing's comment........
RIP, CPL Buckles. God’s speed and thank you. A grateful nation is truly appreciative of your service.
Nicholas and I are flying our Flag in our front yard at half mast for Cpl. Buckles.
A part of history for our country passes away and we must never forget. We must do what we can to never let it be just grainy black and photos in a text book.
Posted by Wild Thing at February 28, 2011 03:50 AM
I have seen it on the Military Channel a couple of times. the last day of that war. And of all the travesties of that war the last 4 hours were the most horrendous. The Armistace was to start on the 11th month, of the 11th day at the 11th hour and all hostilities would end. At about 6:30 AM that morning General Pershing orderd an all out assault on the German position in front of them, His thinking was that they needed an unconditional surrender otherwise we would be back there in a few years to do it all over again. His idea had merit for sure and very prophetic but the reality was it would never happen. We the United States lost 10,000 troops in the waning hours of that war. At about 10:50 AM the Americans were attacking and the Germans were waving at the to go back, but they kept on coming and the Germans had no choice but to shoot them down. The last American to die in that war died at 10:59 AM...(Henry Gunther was hit by German machine gun fire at 10:59 a.m. in the northeastern French town of Chaumont-devant-Damvillers in a final-minute clash with German troops.
A monument honoring the 23-year-old from Baltimore, Maryland, was erected in Chaumont-devant-Damvillers before Tuesday’s 90th anniversary of the Nov. 11, 1918, armistice that ended the bloody four-year conflict.)...
A minute later all shooting stopped. There was outrage in Congress over this but it was decided to be dropped because we had been victorious, and so it was dropped. I have always admired General Pershing but this was one of the stupidest ideas I heard. There was no way they could have dreamed of reaching Berlin from France in that war, but he went ahead with it anyway and that was pure travesty.
May Cpl Frank Buckles rest in peace God knows he deserves it.
Posted by: Mark at February 28, 2011 09:29 AM
The end of an era. I am glad that Frank Buckles death did not pass unnoticed.
WWII vets are passing away rapidly. There were a lot of them, but so many have/are passing on that it is seldom I run across one at the VA. Luckily WWII is well documented. These two world wars had a very big impact on America. We became a world power as a result of these wars.
Thank you to Frank Buckles ans all the vets of WWI and WWII who helped mold America into her greatness.
Posted by: TomR, armed in Texas at February 28, 2011 10:48 AM
Mark, I really appreciate what you shared. I agree it was such a horrible travesty.
Tom, amazing how the anti-war people do not understand that none of us love war but we know what happens if a country does not fight back. The world would be a completely different place and not a good one.
Posted by: Wild Thing at March 1, 2011 01:09 AM