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  1. #1
    ViKing24's Avatar
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    Only 4 U.S. WWI Veterans Still Living


    Very interesting story on a brave and loyal and true Patriot to his country along with the many vets who serve their country today


    WWI vet witnessed rise of America
    By Aamer Madhani



    Chicago Tribune


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    PETE SOUZA / MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS

    World War I veteran Frank Buckles tries on his 90-year-old Army cap as he reminisces about "The Great War" from his home in Charles Town, W.Va. Only 16 when he enlisted, Buckles spent time in England and France, but never came close to the front lines.



    / MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS

    This undated photo provided by Frank Buckles shows him in his Army uniform. Buckles lied to a recruiter about his age.


    CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Frank Buckles, frail but sharp, surrounds himself with totems from another time and distant lands.

    A china cabinet is filled with military patches, an old wireless telegraph and other knickknacks he collected while deployed to England, France and Germany. One wall holds a sepia-toned photograph of Buckles as a fresh-faced soldier at age 16 posing with the rest of his grim-looking Army unit.

    Another showcases commendations from Congress and the West Virginia governor, as well as a photograph of French President Jacques Chirac pinning the Legion of Honor medal on Buckles' jacket.

    And, of course, there are his war stories.

    The last three


    There are three known living World War I veterans in the United States:

    Frank Buckles, 106, lied about his age to get into the Army when he was 16. He served in England, France and Germany, but he never was close to the fighting in World War I. He lives on a 330-acre cattle farm in West Virginia.

    Harry Landis, 107, of Sun City Center, Fla., enlisted in the Army in October 1918, a month before the war ended, and never saw action. But he did experience another calamity of the age, the Spanish flu pandemic, when he helped take care of afflicted soldiers in Missouri. He and his 99-year-old wife, Eleanor, live in an assisted-care facility, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

    Russell Coffey, 108, also enlisted in October 1918 and was uninvolved in the fighting. He is the oldest living Rotarian and lives in a nursing home in North Baltimore, Ohio, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
    From World War I. "The Great War."

    The life of Frank Buckles in some ways tracks a timeline for the rise of America as a superpower. World War I brought about the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and the United States has been ascendant since. He has been witness to it all, and is one of very few living to tell about it.

    At age 106, Buckles is believed to be one of only three living American veterans of World War I, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    "For many years, I would read the figures in The Torch (a veterans magazine) in two columns — one was the number of 4.7 million-something veterans who served, and the other, which kept going down, was the number of us that were still alive," Buckles said. "I knew one day it would come to this. But I didn't think I would be one of the few still around to talk about it."

    Buckles is the youngest of the three known living U.S. World War I veterans. His voice is raspy, he has difficulty walking, and he needs help getting dressed each morning. But his mind is keen, and the memories of his two years in Europe during the war remain clear.

    Today, Frank Buckles was to serve as a marshal for the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., sharing the starring role with actor Gary Sinise. White House officials also offered to give Buckles a tour on Memorial Day, but his doctor advised that the parade was more than enough excitement for one day.

    Buckles said he doesn't mind all the attention. It's a salute to his generation, and he just happens to be the only one of his contemporaries available to take a bow. But he said he is a bit concerned about whether he is the right guy for the parade.

    "What are you supposed to do when you lead a parade?" Buckles asked.

    Besides Buckles, the VA has identified the only other living World War I veterans as Harry Landis, a 107-year-old living in Sun City Center, Fla., and Russell Coffey, a 108-year-old in North Baltimore, Ohio.

    World War I's last Navy veteran, Lloyd Brown, 105, and last female veteran, Charlotte Winters, 109, died days apart in March. After their deaths, the VA made a public appeal to identify any other veterans of the war, but found no others, said VA spokesman Matt Burns.

    While World War I marked the decline of the British Empire and led to the remapping of the Middle East, "The Great War" has largely become the forgotten war of American history, said Eli Paul, director of the newly opened National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Mo.

    In Canada and Britain, the governments have decided to mark the end of a generation with a tribute after the last World War I veteran dies. There are four or five living veterans in Britain and at least one in Canada, according to historians.

    In the United States, the VA and historians have only begun talking about how to properly commemorate the service of the World War I veterans.

    Paul said the story of "the war to end all wars" has been eclipsed by the "Greatest Generation" of Americans who fought in World War II.

    "These World War I veterans raised a generation that did them one better," said Paul, who added that museum visitors regularly comment that they hadn't realize the scope or importance of the war. "They got overshadowed in this country on Dec. 7, 1941, and never got out of the shadow."

    For years, Buckles rarely told strangers about his war experiences, said his daughter, Susannah Flanagan.

    "When I was little, I would ask him to tell me a bedtime story, and instead of reading to me he would tell me a story about the war or his time as a little boy in Missouri or Oklahoma," she said. "But he really didn't talk to anyone about it but my mother and me."

    In recent years, though, Buckles has taken to sharing with historians and other visitors who come to his 330-acre cattle farm, Flanagan said.

    Soon after the U.S. entered the war on April 6, 1917, posters promoting the war effort appeared in the post office in the small farming community of Oakwood, Okla., where Buckles' family lived. Newspapers were filled with dispatches from the front.

    Buckles, only 16, was eager to join up. On a trip to Kansas that summer, he stopped by a Marine recruiting office and tried to enlist. He told the recruiter he was 18, but the sergeant said he needed to be 21 to be eligible.

    A few weeks later, Buckles returned to the same recruiting office and told the sergeant he was 21. The sergeant gave him a physical and said he wasn't heavy enough.

    After several other rejections, Buckles finally visited an Army recruiting office. When a recruiter asked for a birth certificate, he replied that Missouri wasn't keeping such records at the time of his birth and his only record would be his family Bible. The recruiter took him at his word, and Buckles was on his way to war.

    He volunteered to serve as an ambulance driver because he heard it was the quickest way to the front. He spent some time in England and later France, but he never came close to the front lines. After Armistice Day in 1918, he was assigned to a prisoner-of-war escort company that was returning POWs to Germany.

    After two years in Europe, Buckles returned home aboard the USS Pocahontas in 1920 with $143.90 in his pocket.

    After working at the Oklahoma City post office for a few months, he saved enough to take a train to Toronto, where he found a job at the White Star Line Steamship Co. Over the next 20 years, he would mostly work in the shipping business.

    While he was in Manila on business in 1941, the Japanese invaded the Philippines and Buckles was taken prisoner of war. He was first taken to a prison camp at Santo Tomas and later to Los Banos, where he was held with more than 2,100 internees.

    When he actually served, he did not get close to the front. But in a war in which he was a civilian, he was held prisoner for 3 ½ years.

    Buckles was among those rescued in a daring parachute mission by the 11th Airborne Division in February 1945.

    Buckles married soon after returning from the Philippines. His wife, Audrey, died in 1999.

    The couple settled in Charles Town in 1954, and he was riding the tractor at his farm well past his 100th birthday.

    Buckles said a long life has left him many memories, some of them painful, such as his time in the prison camp. But he said he learned over time that talking about the past can be the best antidote.

    Some years back, he said, he met a Japanese-American man while on a flight to Spain and they got to talking. The man told Buckles his father was held in an internment camp in the U.S. during World War II.

    "What I know is that we all have rough times," Buckles said. "I told him that he must go back and insist to his father that he talk about what happened. We have to talk about those things. It's the only thing to do."

    Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company


    Formerly Viking24

  2. #2
    Garland Greene's Avatar
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    Re: Only 4 U.S. WWI Veterans Still Living

    I am confused by the tittle of the thread it says 4 but the article says 3. Did I miss one?

    Its hard to belive that there are only 3 left. For something that does not seem like it was that long ago. But then whne you look at their age it puts it into perspective. wasn't there somebodyu a few months ago that died who was questioned if he was part of the Civil War or something.

  3. #3
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    Re: Only 4 U.S. WWI Veterans Still Living

    "Garland" wrote:
    I am confused by the tittle of the thread it says 4 but the article says 3. Did I miss one?

    Its hard to belive that there are only 3 left. For something that does not seem like it was that long ago. But then whne you look at their age it puts it into perspective. wasn't there somebodyu a few months ago that died who was questioned if he was part of the Civil War or something.
    Couldn't have been the Civil War. The Civil War ended in 1865. That's 142 years ago. Even if he was 13 at the time of the war, he would have been 155 years old.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

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    Re: Only 4 U.S. WWI Veterans Still Living

    "singersp" wrote:
    "Garland" wrote:
    I am confused by the tittle of the thread it says 4 but the article says 3. Did I miss one?

    Its hard to belive that there are only 3 left. For something that does not seem like it was that long ago. But then whne you look at their age it puts it into perspective. wasn't there somebodyu a few months ago that died who was questioned if he was part of the Civil War or something.
    Couldn't have been the Civil War. The Civil War ended in 1865. That's 142 years ago. Even if he was 13 at the time of the war, he would have been 155 years old.
    That was why it was questioned. They were not sure how old he was. I thought it was something about him being a dfrummer boy or something that was 5 or 6.
    He was one of the black units that served or something like that. So he was not actually a soldier.

  5. #5
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Only 4 U.S. WWI Veterans Still Living

    "Garland" wrote:
    "singersp" wrote:
    "Garland" wrote:
    I am confused by the tittle of the thread it says 4 but the article says 3. Did I miss one?

    Its hard to belive that there are only 3 left. For something that does not seem like it was that long ago. But then whne you look at their age it puts it into perspective. wasn't there somebodyu a few months ago that died who was questioned if he was part of the Civil War or something.
    Couldn't have been the Civil War. The Civil War ended in 1865. That's 142 years ago. Even if he was 13 at the time of the war, he would have been 155 years old.
    That was why it was questioned. They were not sure how old he was. I thought it was something about him being a dfrummer boy or something that was 5 or 6.
    He was one of the black units that served or something like that. So he was not actually a soldier.
    That would still have made him at least 150 years old. There's nothing to question. No one has ever lived to be that old.

    The oldest, at least as of 2004, was a man who died at the age of 113.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,139154,00.html

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

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    Re: Only 4 U.S. WWI Veterans Still Living

    WOW!
    That's incredible to think an entire generation of fighters will be silenced.


    There has been much mentioned about the shrinking WWII vet's . . . but I never gave WWI much thought.

    "No Greater Friend . . . No Worse Enemy. U.S. MARINES"
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  7. #7
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    Re: Only 4 U.S. WWI Veterans Still Living

    I'm sure these guys still remmber a lot from their experience that they will take to their graves just because they don't want to talk about it.


    Thank you for your service.

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    Ltrey33 is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Only 4 U.S. WWI Veterans Still Living

    Sheesh...that war is still claiming victims.

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    Re: Only 4 U.S. WWI Veterans Still Living

    "singersp" wrote:
    "Garland" wrote:
    I am confused by the tittle of the thread it says 4 but the article says 3. Did I miss one?

    Its hard to belive that there are only 3 left. For something that does not seem like it was that long ago. But then whne you look at their age it puts it into perspective. wasn't there somebodyu a few months ago that died who was questioned if he was part of the Civil War or something.
    Couldn't have been the Civil War. The Civil War ended in 1865. That's 142 years ago. Even if he was 13 at the time of the war, he would have been 155 years old.
    There are still Civil War spouses alive.
    Many stole from the cradle after the war.
    I know one personally.
    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

  10. #10
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Only 4 U.S. WWI Veterans Still Living

    "Prophet" wrote:
    "singersp" wrote:
    "Garland" wrote:
    I am confused by the tittle of the thread it says 4 but the article says 3. Did I miss one?

    Its hard to belive that there are only 3 left. For something that does not seem like it was that long ago. But then whne you look at their age it puts it into perspective. wasn't there somebodyu a few months ago that died who was questioned if he was part of the Civil War or something.
    Couldn't have been the Civil War. The Civil War ended in 1865. That's 142 years ago. Even if he was 13 at the time of the war, he would have been 155 years old.
    There are still Civil War spouses alive.
    Many stole from the cradle after the war.
    I know one personally.
    You do realize, she'd have to be over 150 years old & she would be the oldest woman ever to live.

    I don't believe you. How old is she?

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

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