“Well, I guess I’m famous now.”
Those were the words of Frank W. Buckles when he became the last living American World War I veteran in 2008. Sadly, yesterday, Buckles passed at the age of 110.
“We have lost a living link to an important era in our nation’s history,” said Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. “But we have also lost a man of quiet dignity who dedicated his final years to ensuring the sacrifices of his fellow doughboys are appropriately commemorated.”
Buckles was born on February 1, 1901. He dropped out of school at 16 and immediately joined the Army, lying about his age so he could enlist. He was deployed to France and was in battle against the Germans. After he was discharged, Buckles worked for a shipping company in the Phillipines. After a Japanese invasion, Buckles was captured and held as a civilian prisoner for 38 months. After being rescued, he returned home, married, and eventually moved to his farm in West Virginia where he remained until his death.
His secret to longevity: “When you think you’re dying, don’t.”
Buckles is survived by his daughter Susannah Buckles Flanagan and will be buried in Arlington National Cemetary.
—Photo AP/Charlie Riedel