RIP: Frank Buckles, America’s last veteran of World War I

posted at 4:55 pm on February 28, 2011 by Allahpundit

He was born seven months before Teddy Roosevelt succeeded William McKinley and two years before the Wright brothers’ first success with powered flight at Kitty Hawk. Via NBC, his enlistment record notes that he signed up on August 14, 1917; John F. Kennedy was less than three months old at the time. He was paid $143.90 for his service, $60 of which was a bonus. Later he went to work in international shipping and ended up in the Philippines in 1941. The Japanese invaded and sent him to a POW camp, where he wasted away for almost the entire span of the war. The 11th Airborne finally liberated him in February 1945.

He settled in West Virginia and lived quietly until his astounding longevity brought him some attention in the past few years. France awarded him the Legion of Honor and he was invited to the White House to meet Bush. He became a spokesman for the World War I Memorial Foundation, and to the end lamented that people seemed not to want to talk about the war after it was over. A haunting quote from the first clip below, from 2007: “Nobody asked me what I had seen. And I felt something was wrong about that.”

The second clip is a trailer for a documentary about him that’s set for release later this year. America under the Constitution is a little more than 220 years old; he lived through fully half of it. What a life.


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Rest in peace, Corporal. Thank you for your service to this country.

kingsjester on February 28, 2011 at 4:58 PM

Incredible story, RIP – go to your rest brave warrior

Defector01 on February 28, 2011 at 4:58 PM

Thank you

DarkCurrent on February 28, 2011 at 5:00 PM

We thank him and all others for our freedoms.
Rest easy with GOD.

Col.John Wm. Reed on February 28, 2011 at 5:00 PM

RIP.

It was an honor to learn of him in these past few years. I had family members who were missionaries that were put into the camps in the Phillipines in ’41. Their stories were frightening & haunting.

Rest, good sir.

portlandon on February 28, 2011 at 5:00 PM

Talk about a “forgotten war”. These men and women that served in the Great War deserve a proper national memorial. Future generations of Americans need to remember their service.

Rest in Peace, Soldier.

Dr. ZhivBlago on February 28, 2011 at 5:02 PM

God bless him and all American service people, wherever they may be.

joe btfsplk on February 28, 2011 at 5:04 PM

God Bless you Mr. Frank Buckles. I thank you for your service. I wonder if you knew of my Grandfather who fought in the First WW.
Rest in Peace soldier and know that we are here to defend this fine nation as you once did..
Bravo Zulu :)

hawkman on February 28, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Thank you Brave Warrior – Enjoy Eternal Rest in God’s Arms it was well earned & most deserved…..Godspeed Corporal Ruggles

huskerdiva on February 28, 2011 at 5:06 PM

America under the Constitution is a little more than 220 years old; he lived through fully half of it.

Wow. That’s mind-boggling. Reminds of my grandmother, whose life saw the first manned flight and then the first manned landing on the Moon.To think how the world changed during those people’s lives…

Wow.

irishspy on February 28, 2011 at 5:06 PM

America under the Constitution is a little more than 220 years old; he lived through fully half of it.

That blows my mind.

Jim-Rose on February 28, 2011 at 5:06 PM

Buckles…sticky computer keys…..

huskerdiva on February 28, 2011 at 5:07 PM

A true patriot. It’s amazing to listen to stories from WWI and WWII soldiers. It’s really is hard to imagine most of them were boys, in Mr. Buckles case 15 years old, who were proud to serve their country. Thanks to all who have and are serving now.

LadyGator88 on February 28, 2011 at 5:07 PM

The second video gave me chills. God bless him and his family and friends. Thank you for your heroic service.

d1carter on February 28, 2011 at 5:08 PM

God bless you and reward your sacrifice with eternal peace.

Cody1991 on February 28, 2011 at 5:08 PM

I know people that lived before the INTERNET. BEAT THAT.

SirGawain on February 28, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Thanks for your service. RIP.

OmahaConservative on February 28, 2011 at 5:11 PM

irishspy on February 28, 2011 at 5:06 PM

You think that’s mind-boggling, we’re still paying the pensions for a handful of Civil War widows. Of course, it was like when he was 96 and she was 16, but still….

JeffWeimer on February 28, 2011 at 5:12 PM

WW1 was an awful war. Not that any war isn’t awful. But trench warfare that was practiced in WW1 is in a category of hell all its own.

angryed on February 28, 2011 at 5:12 PM

America under the Constitution is a little more than 220 years old; he lived through fully half of it. What a life.

Perspective.

He was remarkably agile and lucid for his age. And he has a POW for over 3 years in WWII? Amazing.

conservative pilgrim on February 28, 2011 at 5:14 PM

Wow,last of the Great War,prayers to his family,
and thank-you for your service,and courage,and
speaking,unofficially from Canada,an ally,thanks
again,for helping Free the World on your watch!!

canopfor on February 28, 2011 at 5:14 PM

Anything at all from Code Pink indicating gratitude for his contributions toward their present freedoms?

a capella on February 28, 2011 at 5:21 PM

WW1 was an awful war. Not that any war isn’t awful. But trench warfare that was practiced in WW1 is in a category of hell all its own.

angryed on February 28, 2011 at 5:12 PM

So, so, so, SO true.

RIP.

Tonight I will quietly toast to him.

blatantblue on February 28, 2011 at 5:21 PM

God bless you Mr. Buckles. Thank you for your service. see you on the other side.

ted c on February 28, 2011 at 5:21 PM

RIP Frank Buckles..God Bless you..:):):)

Dire Straits on February 28, 2011 at 5:27 PM

Godspeed

Vashta.Nerada on February 28, 2011 at 5:30 PM

RIP Mr Buckles. You made America proud.

Wanted to add this link for our current heroes

http://www.blrag.com/williams-world/2011/2/27/artist-remembers-fallen-heroes-with-posters.html

William Amos on February 28, 2011 at 5:31 PM

You might as well say he was in both World Wars. The movie is suppose to be released this year. God Bless Mr. Buckles and thank you for being a proud soldier and a fine husband, father and citizen.

Cindy Munford on February 28, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Enjoy your reward, sir.

RedNewEnglander on February 28, 2011 at 5:46 PM

America under the Constitution is a little more than 220 years old; he lived through fully half of it.

That’s so incredible to comprehend, I get dizzy thinking about it. Living for half the lifetime of any empire is no small feat in itself, never mind the odds are against one being an old warrior of same.

Rest in peace Mr.Buckles. May God keep the nation you defended from collapsing just a little while longer…

Dark-Star on February 28, 2011 at 6:00 PM

Godspeed, soldier.

Rollie on February 28, 2011 at 6:08 PM

rip

rob verdi on February 28, 2011 at 6:11 PM

WWI vets are the ones who started the American Legion, that maybe the memorial the stands the test of time, thank you Corporal…

Elbar on February 28, 2011 at 6:15 PM

kingsjester on February 28, 2011 at 4:58 PM

amen

cmsinaz on February 28, 2011 at 6:17 PM

God Bless you and yours Frank.
Godspeed

JustJP on February 28, 2011 at 6:22 PM

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord,
And let Perpetual Light shine upon him.
May his Soul
And the Souls of all the faithful departed
Through the Mercy of God
Rest in Peace.
Amen.

Zorro on February 28, 2011 at 6:22 PM

I saw this on CNN last night, but there was very little in the story about his life.

Thanks for the fitting tribute, Allah, and the perspective on his life.

To the commenter who remarked about the moon landing, I’m reminded of Apollo astronaut Charlie Duke’s quote:

My father was born just before the Wright Brothers. He could barely believe we went to the moon. But my son was five, and he didn’t think it was any big deal.

Purple Fury on February 28, 2011 at 6:38 PM

Thanks for posting such a tribute. “America under the Constitution is a little more than 220 years old; he lived through fully half of it” is such an enormous statement, God Bless and rest in peace and thanks for your service!

scalleywag on February 28, 2011 at 6:43 PM

To be imprisoned by the Japanese was certainly horrible. One of my grandmother’s first cousin’s was imprisoned by the Japanese in WWII. She was a Methodist missionary in China. She lived to be around 104.

I love to go to old WWI War monuments built before WWII. Of course they use they don’t use the name WWI.

SC.Charlie on February 28, 2011 at 6:49 PM

Thanks for posting this story, AP. Lived through nearly half of our nation’s history! Wow, just think about that. I’ll definitely be watching the documentary on him.

EarthToZoey on February 28, 2011 at 7:31 PM

What a life, RIP

brak on February 28, 2011 at 7:44 PM

RIP. What an amazing life.

I figured this was a good place to post this – I’ve been wanting to share it for awhile – a song about an old warrior finally going home…called “Black Swan Song” by the band Athlete:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQVKoCIE0jc

The story behind the song is here:

http://www.athlete.mu/music/black-swan-song

All the proceeds from the single have gone to the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

Makes me shed a tear every time.

JeepGirl on February 28, 2011 at 8:14 PM

Rest well, sir.

We are in your debt.

hillbillyjim on February 28, 2011 at 8:19 PM

A little bit of America died yesterday…

turfmann on February 28, 2011 at 8:36 PM

The world loses a lot when someone who has experienced so much for so long, dies. The human soul is the product of a lifetime of wisdom, experiences, and emotions that make us who we are. So when someone who is 110 dies, the loss to the cosmos is irreplaceable.

keep the change on February 28, 2011 at 9:03 PM

R.I.P. Corporal Buckles.

Western_Civ on February 28, 2011 at 9:43 PM

RIP

xplodeit on February 28, 2011 at 9:45 PM

Tomorrow I’m going to the funeral of a WWII combat vet, a B-17 radio operator. I am always aware that eventually, I will be going to the funeral of the last WWII vet I know. And in my lifetime, should I live that long, there will also be the last WWII vet who will also go from living history to past history just like Mr. Buckles.
God speed Mr. Buckles.
And thank you so much.

Amendment X on March 1, 2011 at 12:19 AM

For reasons completely unknown to me, I have had a fascination obsession with World War One. I’ve read the Guns of August and am almost finished with A World Undone – and I’ve purchased and watched two DVD series on the subject as well. What is utterly staggering about the Great War is the enormous loss of over 10 million promising young men in addition to many times that who were physically and mentally crippled for the rest of their lives; they were the Lost Generation. Europe before the war was more prosperous than ever in its history, and by the end it was completely shattered and bankrupt. The brutality, horror and carnage of the war was unlike anything before or since – and the greatest tragedy is that it was so unnecessary. What should have been nothing more than just another flareup in the Balkans was, through a series of uncanny events, transformed into what I think was the most horrible war ever fought. The Second World War was in so many ways a continuation of the First. Our Nation needs a fitting monument to those who fought in that war.

Rest in Peace, Frank Buckles. A distant bugle has called home the Last Doughboy; the roll call is all present and accounted for.

Logic on March 1, 2011 at 7:17 AM