Frank Woodruff Buckles (February 1, 1901-February 27, 2011) was the last of nearly 5 million American veterans of World War I. He lived in West Virginia for many years before his death at the age of 110.
Buckles was born in Harrison County, Missouri, and grew up in Oklahoma. In August 1917, at just 16, he lied about his age to enlist in the Army. He sailed to Europe on the Carpathia, the ship that had rescued survivors of the Titanic. He spent time as a driver in England and then was shipped to France where he served as an ambulance driver. When hostilities ended, he served with a company that returned prisoners of war to Germany. He rose to the rank of corporal by the time the war ended.
Following the war, he worked as an officer for the White Star Line steamship company. He was working in the Philippines in 1941 when the Japanese invaded. He was taken prisoner and spent more than three years in prison camps.
With money he earned during the war, he purchased a farm in Charles Town and settled there in 1954.
In 1999, French President Jacques Chirac presented Buckles and two other American veterans with the National Order of the Legion of Honor, the country’s highest award. In 2008, Buckles was honored at the Pentagon and met President George W. Bush at the White House. In 2009, Congress considered legislation to dedicate a World War I memorial at the National Mall. Buckles spoke at a Senate hearing in favor of the bill, which was named in his honor.
Buckles died of natural causes at his home in Charles Town. He was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors on March 15, 2011.
Last Revised on September 27, 2012