Frank Buckles, Last American Veteran of World War I, Dies at 110

Theunis Bates
AOL News

Frank Buckles receives the French Legion of Honor, left, on Oct. 7, 2008, at age 107. He had enlisted in the U.S. Army, right, in 1917 at the age of 16./Getty Images

Frank Buckles, the last known surviving American veteran of World War I, a onetime Missouri farm boy who lied about his age to join the Army in 1917, has died at age 110.

Buckles — who also survived 3 1/2 years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during World War II — died of natural causes at his home in Charles Town, W.Va., biographer and family spokesman David DeJonge told The Journal of Martinsburg, W.Va.

The veteran celebrated his 110th birthday earlier this month, but his family said that his health had been deteriorating since late last year. He died Sunday.

Born in a farmhouse in 1901 in Bethany, Mo., Buckles eagerly enlisted on April 14, 1917, eight days after the U.S. entered a war that had been raging for three years and cost millions of lives overseas.

“I knew what was happening in Europe, even though I was quite young,”he told The Washington Post in 2005. “And I thought, well, ‘I want to get over there and see what it’s about.'”

But the 16-year-old struggled to find a service that would accept him. “I went to the state fair up in Wichita, Kan., and while there, went to the recruiting station for the Marine Corps,” Buckles told The Associated Press in 2007. “The nice Marine sergeant said I was too young when I gave my age as 18, said I had to be 21.”…

…Like many of the more than 4 million Americans who served in WWI — about 116,500 died in the conflict — Buckles received little help when he arrived back the U.S. He was handed a $60 bonus by the government, and the local YMCA offered him one month of free membership. Buckles put the bonus toward typing and shorthand classes, and he found a clerical job with a steamship company…

…With his death, only two of the 65 million people mobilized during the Great War are known to be alive, The Washington Post reports: an Australian man, 109, and a British woman, 110.

Read the rest of Frank Buckle’s amazing story at AOL News.

Read also, And so the Great War departs from American memory, where TigerHawk calculates that Mr. Buckles “lived for 47% of the existence of the United States.”

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