Missouri native Frank Woodruff Buckles was the last one.
The last doughboy, the last American soldier who was witness to the “war to end all wars.”
Buckles died Sunday at age 110 at his home in West Virginia.
Tributes came forth from President Barack Obama, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.
Buckles’ connection to this area goes beyond the fact that he was born in Harrison County, Mo., near Bethany, in 1901. He enlisted in the Army — underage at 16 — in August 1917 and trained at Fort Riley.
Buckles returned in 2008 as guest of honor at the Memorial Day ceremony at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City.
“It is really quite extraordinary for an institution like this to bring in someone who actually participated in a war that is now almost a hundred years in the past,” museum President Brian Alexander said Monday. “It was so interesting to go through the gallery with Frank and have him tell stories, and how the exhibits moved him.”
Buckles said his experiences were still clear in his mind.
“I was gung-ho,” he told The Kansas City Star.
Buckles and his detachment sailed to Europe in December 1917 aboard the Carpathia, the ship that had rescued Titanic survivors in 1912. Buckles drove ambulances in England and France and attained the rank of corporal. After the armistice of 1918, Buckles drove German POWs back to their country.
He did not see combat but he recalled it as “a severe war.”
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