When Harrison County native Frank Buckles enlisted in the Army for World War One, he had to convince the recruiting sergeant he was older than 16. He lied. But the army believed him, and made him a soldier in August 1917.
Buckles has died at the age of 110, America’s last World War One veteran.
He recalled for the Army’s Heritage and Education Center in 19-88 that a sergeant at Fort Riley, Kansas told him to join the ambulance corps if he wanted to go overseas for the war. If he joined the Sixth Cavalry, which was then training at Fort Riley, the sergeant warned, he might spend the war in Texas.
Buckles had been driving since he was 12 and had the experience the Army wanted in its ambulance drivers. He went overseas on the steamships Carpathia–the ship that rescued Titanic survivors. After Armistice Day, He was part of a unit that escorted German POWs back to Germany.
After the war he got worked for a ship building company. He was on civilian business in Manila when the Japanese invaded the Philippines, was captured and spent three years as a Japanese prisoner of war. In recent years he has been an advocate for creation of a national World War One Memorial.
A couple of years ago, Buckles said he knew he would be among the last “hundred or so” World War One veterans but said he didn’t expect to be the last one. He did expect to live to be 100 or more. His father’s sister lived to be 104. Buckles said he always realized the importance of keeping himself in shape.
You can listen to the 2008 documentary the USAHEC made from the 1988 interview at:
Or you can watch his interview with the Army’s Heritage and Educational Center on Youtube: