The last living WWI veteran Frank Buckles of West Virginia died Sunday at age 110. His death was not unexpected. Buckles was born in Missouri. At age 16, he wiggled his way into the military by lying about his age. 90 years later, he had the distinction of being the only surviving WWI veteran,
The Washington Post reports:
In 1917 and 1918, close to 5 million Americans served in World War I, and Mr. Buckles, a cordial fellow of gentle humor, was the last known survivor. “I knew there’d be only one someday,” he said a few years back. “I didn’t think it would be me.”
His daughter, Susannah Buckles Flanagan, said Mr. Buckles, a widower, died of natural causes on his West Virginia farm, where she had been caring for him.
Buckles’ distant generation was the first to witness the awful toll of modern, mechanized warfare. As time thinned the ranks of those long-ago U.S. veterans, the nation hardly noticed them vanishing, until the roster dwindled to one ex-soldier, embraced in his final years by an appreciative public.
“Frank was a history book in and of himself, the kind you can’t get at the library,” said his friend, Muriel Sue Kerr. Having lived from the dawn of the 20th century, he seemed to never tire of sharing his and the country’s old memories – of the First World War, of roaring prosperity and epic depression, and of a second, far more cataclysmic global conflict, which he barely survived
Another piece of living history has been lost to the annals of time. There are no living survivors of WWI. How long before we will be forced to say the same about those who served in WWII?