Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Hell of a Life

I was just 16 and didn’t look a day older. I confess to you that I lied to more than one recruiter. I gave them my solemn word that I was 18, but I’d left my birth certificate back home in the family Bible. They’d take one look at me and laugh and tell me to go home before my mother noticed I was gone. Somehow I got the idea that telling an even bigger whopper was the way to go. So I told the next recruiter that I was 21 and darned if he didn’t sign me up on the spot! I enlisted in the Army on 14 August 1917.

Frank W Buckles

Frank rode over to Europe on the Carpathia after that. While in passage, he talked to some of the crew who were aboard when she was sent to rescue Titanic survivors five years prior. Drove ambulances in France and England with the US Army's Fort Riley Casual Detachment, and after the war escorted POWs back to Germany.

Discharged from the army in 1920.

In 1942, working for the White Star Shipping Company, he was traveling to Manila and was captured by the Japanese. Spent the next 3 1/2 years in the Los Baños prison camp, where he almost died of malnourishment. Weight dropped to under a buck, and he caught beriberi.

In February of '45 he was rescued, a 44 year old civilian POW.

Moved to San Francisco where he married Audrey Mayo in 1946.

He got tired of the shipping business, and in 1953 purchased the 330 acre Gap View Farm near the Shenandoah Junction in West Virginia, where he raised cattle.

In 1999 Audrey passed away after 53 years of marriage, and Frank remained at Gap View until he died yesterday at the age of 110, the last surviving American veteran of WWI.

Frank Buckles- 1901-2011


Penal-Colony said...

Wow, what a story, what a life.

What was his secret?


Michael said...

What those eyes saw in 110 years.

WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq...

This guy was discharged from the US military 91 years ago. And he thought he'd fought in The War to End All Wars.