Frank Buckles, the last surviving U.S. veteran of World War I, has died. He was 110.
Buckles, who also survived being a civilian POW in the Philippines in World War II, died peacefully of natural causes early Sunday at his home in Charles Town, biographer and family spokesman David DeJonge said in a statement. Buckles turned 110 on Feb. 1 and had been advocating for a national memorial honoring veterans of World War I in Washington, D.C.
Buckles lied about his age to join the army at age 16.The Missouri native was among nearly 5 million Americans who served in World War I in 1917 and 1918.
Buckles drove an ambulance during the war. The Washington Post said
that with Buckles’ death, only a 109-year-old Australian man and a
110-year-old British woman were believed to survive from the estimated
65 million people who served in the 1914-1918 war.
Born in Missouri in 1901 and raised in Oklahoma, Buckles visited a
string of military recruiters after the United States entered the “war
to end all wars” in April 1917. He was repeatedly rejected before
convincing an Army captain he was 18. He was 16½. Buckles served in England and France, working mainly as a driver and a warehouse clerk.
After Armistice Day, Buckles helped return prisoners of war to Germany. He returned to the United States in January 1920.
Buckles returned to Oklahoma for a while, then moved to Canada, where
he worked a series of jobs before heading for New York City. There, he
again took advantage of free museums, worked out at the YMCA, and landed
jobs in banking and advertising.
But it was the shipping industry that suited him best, and he worked
around the world for the White Star Line Steamship Co. and W.R. Grace
n 1941, while on business in the Philippines, Buckles was captured by the Japanese. He spent 3½ years in prison camps.
“I was never actually looking for adventure,” Buckles once said. “It just came to me.”
He married in 1946 and moved to his farm in West Virginia in 1954,
where he and wife Audrey raised their daughter, Susannah Flanagan.
Audrey Buckles died in 1999.