Frank Buckles, Last World War I Doughboy, Is Dead at 110

Yesterday, the last living American WWI veteran died at age 110. Frank Buckles lied about his age to join the Army in 1917 and went to war as a 16 year old. He volunteered to drive ambulances because he heard that was the fastest way to get in the action. After the war he worked for a steamship company and was captured as a civilian by the Japanese during WWII and kept as a prisoner of war. Later in life he ran a cattle ranch and was still riding his tractor until age 104.

Buckles was the last WWI soldier to die. The only other two veterans of WWI that remain are  “Claude Choules, who served in Britain’s Royal Navy and now lives in Australia, and Florence Green, a member of Britain’s Women’s Royal Air Force and who lives in England.”

I remember my dad saying that when he was growing up, the Veteran’s Day and Fourth of July parades were filled with WWI vets. And then they slowly disappeared. Today, WWII veterans are vanishing in the same way. Of the 16 million people who served in WWII, only 2 million are still with us today. And they are dying at a rate of 1,000 a day. So if you know an old veteran, be sure to take the time to have him tell you his story before he and his history pass forever from the earth.

Frank Buckles, Last World War I Doughboy, Is Dead at 110 – NYTimes.com.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

ced February 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Thank you Sir for your service and God bless

Bill February 28, 2011 at 4:51 pm

I have so much respect for the older generations – Me being 19, It seems amazing to most people that I’m so intrigued by the elderly, but I always tell them the same thing – You’ll never hear someone tell you a better story than someone who’s lived through history itself.

Caleb February 28, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Interesting that the Marine Corps Times article noted that he was the last WWI vet ANYWHERE, not just the last American. I quote: “Buckles, the last known surviving veteran of World War I, died Feb. 27 of natural causes…”. (Source: http://bit.ly/gLA8ng ) I’m really curious who is correct about whether he was the last vet or not!

Steven February 28, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Why did they call them doughboys?

Bondidude February 28, 2011 at 5:00 pm

@Steven – Some historian will probably correct me with better info, but IIRC from my history classes it had to do with the sour dough bread that the soldiers ate.

Joe February 28, 2011 at 5:01 pm

That is one manly name. It must feel so strange to know that you are the last of your generation.

Well done Mr Buckles.

Gary February 28, 2011 at 5:13 pm

RIP Cpl Buckles

Mark Petersen February 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Death may still his breath but his heart still beats in the chests of his countrymen who remember him.

Matt February 28, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Lost my grandfather this past summer to cancer. He joined the Marine Corp when he was 16 and fought in the Battle of Peleliu. I really wish he was alive today so that I can record his story for the national archives.

Adam February 28, 2011 at 6:19 pm

May his memory be eternal.

Cain February 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm

-Salutes-
It would have been an honor to have met this soldier. Thank you for your bravery and service to our country!

M. Lawrence February 28, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Heard his story this morning on NPR. We are all diminished by the loss of a man who served his country honorably.

J. Wyant March 1, 2011 at 10:37 am

RIP, Mr. Buckles.
BTW, if any of you know a WWII vet who would like to tell his story, here is a link to the National Museum of the Pacific War’s Oral History department: http://www.pacificwarmuseum.org/OralHistories.asp

I used to work at the museum, and I can tell you that they are very interested in recording the stories of all WWII vets, regardless of theatre, for future generations. You don’t even have to travel to the museum for the interview; they can do it over the phone, and your vet will receive a transcript of the interview.

As fast as our WWII vets are dying, this is a monumental and critical mission, and you can help.

Besides, preserving our history is a very manly thing to do.

Dustin Boring March 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm

“Frank Buckles lied about his age to join the Army in 1917 and went to war as a 16 year old. He volunteered to drive ambulances because he heard that was the fastest way to get in the action”.

They don’t make ‘em like they used to…

Tommy March 1, 2011 at 8:15 pm

The last part of this little excerpt actually made me very sad. I don’t know any WWI or WWII veterans but would love to sit down with them and have a chat. RIP.

Bill McNutt March 2, 2011 at 2:56 pm

When I was a boy, it seemed like there were WWI vets everywhere. Hard to believe that they’re all gone now.

Claude March 3, 2011 at 9:55 am

God bless all veterans, living or dead, timed served in peace or war.

Barry Rowland March 4, 2011 at 1:31 am

God rest your soul sir.

chacha March 15, 2011 at 11:51 pm

how was life back then? seems to be nice compare to now.. . the only battle they need to win is the range between divided nations. but now morality, decency,and character are few of the things we need to fight for today… a big,unending war with No hope of winning,I guess.

Chris Carignan March 25, 2011 at 4:13 pm

There was a great video piece about Mr. Buckles done a couple years ago, which was a pleasure to watch:

http://www.vimeo.com/5966300

Fiona April 17, 2011 at 6:12 am

R.I.P rest in piece sir

kyriona January 10, 2012 at 11:27 am

thank you 4 everything

Neil Harvey September 12, 2012 at 5:40 am

It was guys with guts like Cpl Frank Buckles (& many others including my Father) that allowed my in-laws and many other Brits to remain speaking English (instead of German) and we Australians & Kiwis to remain speaking English instead of Japanese.
Lest We Forget – at the going down of the sun and in the morn,
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

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