Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Last U.S. Veteran of the Great War

(Frank Buckles at age 16)

I was pleasantly surprised to learn - courtesy of the History News Network - that there is a last surviving American veteran of the First World War. Of the 4.5 million U.S. troops who served in the European Theatre during that war, the last one left 90 years later is Frank W. Buckles, now age 107.

The HNN article notes:

The dwindling ranks of our World War I veterans – literally from millions to one – marks a poignant moment in our nation’s history. When Frank Buckles is gone, our direct and living connection to the Great War will be gone. Only images, artifacts, and words of the period will remain.

When Frank W. Buckles dies, his name will be added to a list of "last veterans" kept by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The most recent update to this list took place in 1992 when Nathan Cook died at the age of 106. He was the last surviving veteran of the Spanish-American War.

As if World War I wasn't enough, Buckles was a civilian working for an American shipping line in the Philippines when World War II began. He was captured by the Japanese and spent most of the war in a prison camp.

(Frank Buckles at age 103. Quite the dapper gentleman!)

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