Last US WWI Veteran Dies

Frank Buckles at 16

The last known American veteran of World War I died Sunday at his home in West Virginia.  Former U.S. Army Corporal Frank Buckles was 110 years old.

As a teenager, Buckles was eager to enlist. He had been raised on a farm and took a job at a bank in Oklahoma after delivering some horses there. After the Marines rejected him as too young and the Navy told him he had flat feet, he signed on with the Army, claiming that Missouri did not print birth certificates when he was born. He enlisted Aug. 14, 1917.

In reference to his recruitment age, Buckles shared:

I was just 16 and didn’t look a day older. I confess to you that I lied to more than one recruiter. I gave them my solemn word that I was 18, but I’d left my birth certificate back home in the family Bible. They’d take one look at me and laugh and tell me to go home before my mother noticed I was gone. Somehow I got the idea that telling an even bigger whopper was the way to go. So I told the next recruiter that I was 21 and darned if he didn’t sign me up on the spot! I enlisted in the Army on 14 August 1917.

I was selling Girl Scout cookies, chatting on the phone at all hours, and leisurely muddling through high school at age sixteen – putting my life on the line for our country wasn’t something that had ever crossed my mind.  I suspect it doesn’t cross the minds of many teenagers now, either, though we all enjoy the freedoms we have in this country in great part due to the effort put forth by Mr. Buckles and his contemporaries.

On Monday, anonymous Pentagon workers put white roses and a handwritten note on his portrait. The note reads, “Thank you for your service to our country. May you and your generation rest in peace.”

Thank you to Frank Buckles and to each of our veterans and current military personnel for your dedication and personal sacrifices.   Rest in peace Corporal Buckles.

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