|Frank W. Buckles|
|Born||1 February 1901|
|Died||27 February 2011(aged 110 years, 26 days)|
|Years of service||1917 – 1920|
|Unit||1st Fort Riley Casualty Detachment|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
|Awards||World War I Victory Medal
Army of Occupation of Germany Medal
French Legion of Honor
Biography[change | change source]
Buckles was born in Bethany, Missouri. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at the beginning of America's involvement in World War I in April 1917. Only 16 years old at the time, Buckles was asked by his recruiter to show a birth certificate. Later Buckles said of that event, “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 the 14th of August 1917." Before being accepted into the United States Army, he was turned down by the Marine Corps due to his slight weight.
In 1917, Buckles was sent to Europe on the RMS Carpathia, which had rescued RMS Titanic survivors five years earlier. During the war Buckles served in England and France, driving ambulances and motorcycles for the Army's 1st Fort Riley Casualty Detachment. After the Armistice in 1918, Buckles escorted prisoners of war back to Germany. Following his discharge in 1919, he attended the dedication of the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, in honor of those Americans who died in World War I. While there, he met General John "Black Jack" Pershing, commander of all U.S. forces in France during the war.
In the 1940s Buckles worked for a shipping company in Manila, Philippines. He was captured by the Japanese in 1942 and spent the next three and a half years in the Los Baños prison camp. He became malnourished, with a weight below 100 lb, and developed beriberi, yet led his fellow inmates in calisthenics. He was rescued on February 23, 1945.
He died on 27 February 2011 at 110 years old.