Feature

Last man standing

Of the 4,734,991 U.S. military personnel who served in World War I, 108-year-old Frank Buckles is the only one left alive.

Frank Buckles is America’s last doughboy, says Tom Infield in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Of the 4,734,991 U.S. military personnel who served in World War I, the 108-year-old Buckles is the only one left alive. “I realized I’d be one of the last, but I never thought I’d be the last,” he says. “Of course, if it has to be somebody, it might as well be me.” A Missouri native, Buckles was just 16 when he enlisted in the Army. He worked as a military driver in England, then transferred to France. Although he was “not close” to any fighting, he later experienced the hell of war: When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, he was visiting the Philippines as a civilian and was soon taken prisoner. In three years of captivity, his weight dropped below 100 pounds. “There was no mercy as far as the Japanese were concerned.” He was released when the war ended, and in 1954 he bought a farm in Charles Town, W.Va. There he still lives, in good health—“for a man my age.” Today Buckles is a celebrity, with constant requests for interviews. One topic he’s frequently asked about is Iraq. His reply? “We shouldn’t have got into that damned war.”

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