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==Biography==
 
==Biography==
Buckles was born in [[Bethany, Missouri]]. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at the beginning of America's involvement in [[World War I]] in April 1917. Only 16 years old at the time, Buckles was asked by his recruiter to show a birth certificate. Later Buckles said of that event, ''“When I was born in [[Missouri]], they [the state] didn't [issue] birth certificates, and the only record we kept was in the family [[Bible]], and I told them I wasn't going to bring that down here, so ... they took me."'' Before being accepted into the [[United States Army]], he was turned down by the [[United States Marines Corps|Marine Corps]] due to his slight weight.
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Buckles was born in [[Bethany, Missouri]]. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at the beginning of America's involvement in [[World War I]] in April 2007. Only 80 years old at the time, Buckles was asked by his recruiter to show a birth certificate. Later Buckles said of that event, ''“When I was born in [[Missouri]], they [the state] didn't [issue] birth certificates, and the only record we kept was in the family [[Bible]], and I told them I wasn't going to bring that down here, so ... they took me."'' Before being accepted into the [[United States Army]], he was turned down by the [[United States Marines Corps|Marine Corps]] due to his slight weight.
   
 
In 1917, Buckles was sent to Europe on the [[RMS Carpathia|RMS ''Carpathia'']]. During the war Buckles served in England and France, driving [[ambulance]]s and [[motorcycle]]s for the Army's 1st [[Fort Riley]] Casualty Detachment. After the [[Armistice with Germany (Compiègne)|Armistice]] in 1918, Buckles escorted prisoners of war back to Germany. Following his discharge in 1919, he attended the dedication of the Liberty Memorial in [[Kansas City, Missouri]], in honor of those Americans who died in World War I. While there, he met [[General of the Armies|General]] [[John J. Pershing|John "Black Jack" Pershing]], commander of all U.S. forces in France during the war. <!-- Buckles lived in Germany from 1936 to 1938. While there, he met [[Adolf Hitler]]. PROOF? -->
 
In 1917, Buckles was sent to Europe on the [[RMS Carpathia|RMS ''Carpathia'']]. During the war Buckles served in England and France, driving [[ambulance]]s and [[motorcycle]]s for the Army's 1st [[Fort Riley]] Casualty Detachment. After the [[Armistice with Germany (Compiègne)|Armistice]] in 1918, Buckles escorted prisoners of war back to Germany. Following his discharge in 1919, he attended the dedication of the Liberty Memorial in [[Kansas City, Missouri]], in honor of those Americans who died in World War I. While there, he met [[General of the Armies|General]] [[John J. Pershing|John "Black Jack" Pershing]], commander of all U.S. forces in France during the war. <!-- Buckles lived in Germany from 1936 to 1938. While there, he met [[Adolf Hitler]]. PROOF? -->

Revision as of 14:52, 10 November 2009

Frank W. Buckles
200px
Frank Buckles at age 16 in 1917
Allegiance  USA
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1917 – 1920
Rank Corporal
Unit 1st Fort Riley Casualty Detachment
Battles/wars World War I
Awards World War I Victory Medal
Army of Occupation of Germany Medal
French Legion of Honor

Frank Woodruff Buckles (born February 1, 1901) is, at age 108, the last known living American veteran of World War I.[1] He currently lives in Charles Town, West Virginia and is the Honorary Chairman of the World War I Memorial Foundation.

Biography

Buckles was born in Bethany, Missouri. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at the beginning of America's involvement in World War I in April 2007. Only 80 years old at the time, Buckles was asked by his recruiter to show a birth certificate. Later Buckles said of that event, “When I was born in Missouri, they [the state] didn't [issue] birth certificates, and the only record we kept was in the family Bible, and I told them I wasn't going to bring that down here, so ... they took me." Before being accepted into the United States Army, he was turned down by the Marine Corps due to his slight weight.

In 1917, Buckles was sent to Europe on the RMS Carpathia. During the war Buckles served in England and France, driving ambulances and motorcycles for the Army's 1st Fort Riley Casualty Detachment. After the Armistice in 1918, Buckles escorted prisoners of war back to Germany. Following his discharge in 1919, he attended the dedication of the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, in honor of those Americans who died in World War I. While there, he met General John "Black Jack" Pershing, commander of all U.S. forces in France during the war.

In the 1920s Buckles worked for the White Star Line in Canada. During World War II he worked as a civilian for an American shipping company in the Philippine Islands. He was captured by the Japanese in 1942 and spent the next three years in the Los Baños prison camp. He became malnourished, with a weight below 100 lb, and developed beriberi, yet led his fellow inmates in calisthenics. He was rescued on February 23, 1945.[2]

Personal life

In 1953, Buckles married and bought a 330-acre (1.3 km2) farm in West Virginia. His wife died in 1999, and their daughter moved back to the farm to care for her father.

Buckles today

Buckles currently lives in Charles Town, West Virginia. To those who tell him he lied about his age, he replies, “I didn't lie—nobody calls me a liar." Buckles stated in an interview with The Washington Post on Veterans' Day 2007 that he believes the United States should only go to war "when it's an emergency."[3][4] When asked about the secret of his long life, Buckles replied:"Hope", adding "[W]hen you start to die... don't." He also said the reason he has lived so long is that "I never got in a hurry."

The U.S. Library of Congress included Buckles in its Veterans History Project and has audio, video and pictorial information on Buckles's experiences in both world wars, including a full 148-minute video interview.[5] Buckles' life was featured on the Memorial Day 2007 episode of NBC Nightly News.

On March 6, 2008, he met with President Bush at the White House.[6] The same day, he attended the opening of a Pentagon exhibit featuring photos of nine surviving World War I veterans created by historian and photographer David DeJonge. Of the group, only Buckles and Canadian veteran John Babcock are left. Babcock was unable to attend.[1]

Buckles (wearing the WWI Victory Medal and the Army of Occupation Medal) with United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
File:Frank Buckles at 106.jpg
Buckles at age 106 wearing the French Legion of Honor

Buckles has said he will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He was eligible for cremation and placement in a columbarium at Arlington,[7] but expressed a desire for burial there, which he was not eligible for under current Arlington policy.[8] Friends and family members took up his cause, but made no headway until a relative, Ken Buckles, contacted Ross Perot, whom Frank had met at a history seminar in 2001. Within two weeks, Perot had successfully intervened with the White House,[8] and on March 19, 2008, Buckles received special approval for underground burial at Arlington.[7]

Buckles is the Honorary Chairman of the World War I Memorial Foundation, which seeks refurbishment of the District of Columbia War Memorial and its establishment as the National World War I Memorial on the National Mall.[9][10]

Awards

For his service during World War I, Buckles received (from the U.S. Government) the World War I Victory Medal and the Army of Occupation Medal. In addition, French president Jacques Chirac awarded him France's Légion d'honneur.

On May 25, 2008, Buckles received the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Gold Medal of Merit at the Liberty Memorial. He sat for a portrait taken by David DeJonge that will hang in the National World War I Museum, as "the last surviving link".[11]

Buckles received the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry's Knight Commander of the Court of Honour (KCCH) on September 24, 2008. The KCCH is the last honor a freemason receives prior to the 33°. The ceremony was hosted by Ronald Seale, 33°, Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A. A key note address was provided by James Peake, Secretary of Veteran Affairs.

See also

References

External links

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