Thursday, March 6, 2008

World War I: Frank Woodruff Buckles

Frank Buckles at 16

Frank Woodruff Buckles (born February 1, 1901) is, at age 107, the last known surviving American-born veteran of the First World War.

Buckles is the last living WWI U.S. veteran to finish basic training and be stationed overseas prior to the end of the war. The US Library of Congress included him in its Veterans History Project that has audio, video and pictorial information on Buckles' experiences in both World War I and the Second World War, and which includes a full 148-minute video interview or the same interview in 11 segments. [1]

He was born in Harrison County, Missouri, and enlisted at the beginning of the United States' involvement in World War I in April 1917. Before being accepted into the army he was turned down by the marines due to his weight. Also, he was only 15, so he had to lie about his age stating he was 18. Yet, he actually had to be 21. Soon after he visited his aunt in Florida and came back and stated he was now 21. During his time in service for the United States Army, Frank was stationed in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and France. Buckles was sent to France in 1917 at age 16, where he was a driver; after the Armistice was signed in 1918, he escorted prisoners of war back to Germany. In 1919, after the war had ended, Frank Buckles was stationed in Germany, and he was discharged from service in 1920 having achieved the rank of corporal. In the Second World War, in the 1940s, Buckles was a civilian working for an American shipping line. He was captured by the Japanese, however, and spent three years in a Japanese prison camp during most of that war. [2]

Frank Buckles at 103

Buckles has at least one interview on a daily basis. He has stated in many interviews that he doesn't understand why people in the twenty-first century are in such a rush. He commented "What's the hurry?" Also, he does not own a television and has stated that people today watch too much television. He has said the worst president in his opinion was McKinley. Once asked about Nixon, he replied "He said a few bad things here and there." When asked on how he could live so long, he replied "Hope." On a daily basis he lifts 2-pound weights and does stretches in the morning. He does, according to his care taker, do around 50 sit-ups before he gets up in the morning.

Buckles was awarded the l├ęgion d'honneur by then French president Jacques Chirac, and he currently lives in Charles Town, West Virginia. His story was featured on the Memorial Day 2007 episode of NBC Nightly News. He was also at the 2007 Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C., riding in a buggy. Buckles stated in an interview with The Washington Post that he feels that the United States should only go to war when "it's an emergency." [3]

1. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/vhp-stories/loc.natlib.afc2001001.01070/#vhp:clip, May 29, 2007, Library of Congress, Veterans History Project.

2. "'One of the last': WWI vet recalls Great War", USAToday.com, March 27, 2007, Andrea Stone.

3. 106-year old WWI veteran speaks on the Iraq war

Other sources:

Over There — and Gone Forever (New York Times Op-Ed about Frank Buckles, written by Richard Rubin and published on November 12, 2007)

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This article is from Wikipedia and has been reposted here under its GNU Free Documentation License

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