World War I veteran Frank Buckles dies

February 27, 2011|By DAVE MCMILLION |
  • Frank Woodruff Buckles
File photo

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Frank Buckles, who was one of Jefferson County’s most famous citizens and was the last surviving U.S. veteran of World War I, died Sunday, according to a spokeswoman for a Washington, D.C., funeral home where Buckles’ body was being held Sunday night.

Buckles, who lived in Charles Town, died at about 12:15 a.m. Sunday, but it was unclear if he was at home at the time, said Michelle Tanner, receptionist for Joseph Gawler’s Sons Inc., at 5130 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.

No arrangements had been made as of late Sunday, Tanner said.

“I’m pretty sure the arrangements will be finalized (today),” Tanner said.

Tanner could not say why Buckles’ body was at a funeral home in Washington.

Mark Dooms, one of the directors of the funeral home, confirmed that Buckles’ body was at the funeral home, but he could not provide more details.

Buckles, who lived with his daughter, Susannah Buckles Flanagan, at Gap View, the family farm off old W.Va. 9, has been the subject of wide media and congressional attention in recent years.


In 2008, U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., sponsored a bill to allow Buckles, upon his death, to lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

“Mr. Buckles represents the very best of this country — service, determination and patriotism. He has lived through some of the most historic events in American history, from the Great Depression to two world wars to the invention of the Internet,” Capito said in a previous statement.

A story in the May 30, 2010, edition of Parade magazine on Buckles said he lied about his age in 1917 when he was 16 so he could enlist. The Army sent him to France, where he drove ambulances and motorcycles. After the armistice, he helped return German prisoners of war to their country.

In 1941, he was working in Manila for the American President Line, a shipping company. When the Japanese invaded the Philippines during World War II, Buckles was captured and spent 3 1/2 years in a prisoner-of-war camp before he was rescued by American forces when they retook the Island nation.

David DeJonge, a Michigan filmmaker, is producing a documentary on Buckles’ life titled “Pershing’s Last Patriot: The Story of Frank Woodruff Buckles, America’s Last Veteran of World War I.”

It will be narrated by actor Richard Thomas.

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