Although famous American veterans might dwell for good in our hearts, no a single actually life permanently. There will generally be a very last survivor, and of the approximated 4.7 million Individuals who served in the Initially Earth War, West Virginia’s Frank Buckles was the past American witness to the horrors of the Western Entrance. Buckles died on February 27, 2011, but it was just after a lengthy, extraordinarily eventful lifestyle and Entire world War I was just the starting.

The Very last Survivor of World War I: Frank Buckles’ Journey

Buckles was born into a very long line of veterans on February 1, 1901. He stated his ancestors experienced served in the American Revolution and the Civil War. So, it should have been no shock that a youthful Frank Buckles attempted to enlist to go to war just a several months following the United States declared war on Germany in 1917. He was rejected by the Maritime Corps and the Navy for physical problems, but the Military felt so fantastic about the younger man that they acknowledged the lie that he was older than 16.

Nervous to get to the front, he volunteered as an ambulance driver. He was on his way to be part of the American Expeditionary Power in Europe aboard the RMS Carpathia by December of that yr. He would provide in England, then France, driving wounded allied troops in individuals ambulances until eventually the war’s close in November 1918. He then marched various German prisoners of war again to Germany. He was discharged in 1919 but did not make it household until eventually 1920.

Frank Buckles’ Everyday living of Assistance and Advocacy

On returning dwelling, he went to business enterprise faculty in Oklahoma Metropolis, the place he as soon as attended a reception and met none other than his Planet War I commander, Gen. John J. Pershing. Following graduating, he began doing work in transport, which took him all in excess of the environment, together with South Africa, the Pacific Islands, and even again to Germany. It was there, Buckles later said, that he observed Nazi antisemitism, fear of Adolf Hitler’s electricity, and Jesse Owens earn a gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He even claimed to have bumped into the Fhrer himself in a hotel stairway.


When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, Buckles happened to be in the Philippines on business enterprise. Japanese troops struck the Philippines on the exact day as Pearl Harbor, but he did not flee from the islands. The impression of starving civilians (specifically small children) he’d experienced in Environment War I Europe inspired him to stay and help distribute food in Manila. When Japanese troops captured the islands, they also captured Frank Buckles, and he invested the relaxation of Earth War II in the Los Baos prisoner of war camp with other American gentlemen.

Battling hunger, atrophy, and the consequences of malnutrition, he served his fellow People in america, civilians, and GIs alike, survive anytime attainable. He uncovered a very little Japanese and was permitted to improve greens on the camp’s grounds. He augmented the children’s weight loss plans whilst main the group in WWI-era Military calisthenics he’d developed to enjoy so substantially. On February 23, 1945, his camp was liberated by the Allies, and he returned to the United States.

He satisfied his upcoming spouse, Audrey, in 1946. The two would be married until she died in 1999. They expended the relaxation of their lives at Gap View Farm in the vicinity of Charles Town, West Virginia. It was there they also experienced their only youngster. In 2009, at 108 a long time previous, Buckles became the oldest particular person to testify in advance of Congress, advocating for a national Entire world War I Memorial on par with the grandeur of the other monuments in the capital. At the time, he was hoping to get the District of Columbia’s WWI monument upgraded to a countrywide monument and probably upgraded or restored to some variety of grandeur. He even satisfied with then-President George W. Bush about it.

Of study course, that is not what occurred. Just after a generate to pass laws to generate a National Globe War I Memorial, a style and design level of competition, and some fundraising, a new Countrywide World War I Memorial was made in Washington, D.C., in the previous website of Pershing Park. In April 2021, the American flag was raised about the memorial for the initially time. Regrettably, Frank Buckles had died a 10 years prior, at age 110.

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