During the Oscars last night, a news flash came across my Twitter feed. Frank Buckles, the last surviving Veteran of World War One, passed away at the age of 110. Mr. Buckles defined the term living history, and with his death, a connection to a long forgotten war has been severed.
Mr. Buckles led quite a life, beginning with a white lie to military recruiters. He was just sixteen when he tried to enlist with the Marines and Navy, and both rejected him outright. The Army took him and he volunteered as an ambulance driver, which he heard was the quickest way to get to France in 1917. Following the war, Mr. Buckles held a job in international shipping and traveled the world. He happened to be in Manila when the Japanese occupied the Philippines shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. For years, Mr. Buckles was a civilian prisoner of war until the camp was liberated by American soldiers in February 1945. He ran a cattle ranch well past his 100th birthday and was the grand marshal at the National Memorial Day Parade in 2007. And out of nearly 43 million Allied troops in the War to End All Wars, he was the last man standing.
Chris Sheer, a longtime VA employee and Vietnam-era Veteran, wrote a great tribute to Frank Buckles for Veterans Day last November.
Along with Secretary Shinski, we at VAntage Point would like to extend our deepest thanks to Frank Buckles, a soldier for nearly a century. He made sure we remembered our history, and thanks to his efforts, we won’t soon forget. For all the many Veterans that came after, thank you Frank. We’ll be seeing you on the high ground.