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FRANK BUCKLES

FRANK WOODRUFF BUCKLES -- America's Last WWI Veteran
Born February 1, 1901
Passed away Sunday, February 27, 2011

 

I visited Frank Buckles twice at his home in August, 2007 and again in August, 2008.  He is quite an amazing man.  He trained at Fort Riley, Kansas and spent time in England and France but never saw combat.  After returning home he went into various businesses before going into shipping.  He was in the Philippine Islands in the spring of 1942 when they were overrun by Japanese troops.  Frank spent the next 39 months as a civilian in a POW camp before being liberated by troops of the 11th Airborne Division.  On my first visit to see him, I took him a small, diecast metal WWI biplane from the Silent Wings Museum gift shop in Lubbock, TX.  Silent Wings Museum is the National WWII Glider Pilots Museum.  I am wearing a "G-wings" shirt from their gift shop.  I have been a volunteer research assistant at SWM since August, 2004 when I returned from D-Day 60 in Normandy, France.

Link to Lubbock Avalanche-Journal article about my visits with Mr. Buckles.  Article published on Wednesday, February 2, 2011:
http://lubbockonline.com/life/2011-02-02/graduate-student-gives-history-materials-southwest-collection

Link to the Texas Tech University Daily Toreador (formerly the University Daily) newspaper article regarding the birthday party I held in Frank Buckles' honor.  The party and accompanying donation of items related to my visits was held on Thursday, February 3, 2011 at Texas Tech's Southwest Collections / Special Collections Library:
http://www.dailytoreador.com/lavida/article_759c8248-359d-11e0-a165-0017a4a78c22.html

An article from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal about Frank Buckles' 108th birthday on February 1, 2009:
http://lubbockonline.com/stories/020109/nat_383651521.shtml

An article in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal picked up from AP wire service from Morgantown, WV about Mr. Buckles' passing:
http://lubbockonline.com/local-news/2011-03-01/buckles-last-wwi-doughboy-dies-110-wva

An article about Frank Buckles' passing in the TTU Daily Toreador, March 1, 2011:
http://www.dailytoreador.com/opinion/article_ecc3ed22-447d-11e0-a2e6-00127992bc8b.html





John W. McCullough visits America's last WWI Veteran, Mr. Frank Woodruff Buckles of Charles Town, West Virginia, August, 2007.

David DeJonge's websites featuring Mr. Frank Buckles:

www.frankbuckles.org

http://pershingslastpatriot.com/



Below is a photo of Frank Buckles shortly after he joined the US Army.  The back of this photo reads:

FRANK WOODRUFF BUCKLES -- Photo taken in 1917 just after enlistment at age 16, while stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas.




Photo courtesy of Mr. Buckles' daughter, Susannah Buckles Flanagan.





Frank Woodruff Buckles:  A Brief Story about My Visits With Him

By John W. McCullough

I first discovered Frank Woodruff Buckles online from an article about him at the Veteran’s Day commemorations in November, 2005.  I found his address on whitepages.com and sent him a letter.  His daughter Susannah called me back and said that yes, they would be glad to have me come to their home in Charles Town, West Virginia to visit.  She said her dad was still giving interviews and was alert but spoke slowly.

I travelled to Charles Town by rental car in August, 2007 via Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C.  His daughter Susannah is only in her fifties.  Frank married after WWII in 1946, when he was 45 years old.  Frank was born on February 1, 1901.  He will be 110 years old this February.

Frank trained to serve in an ambulance corps at Ft Riley, Kansas.  He misrepresented his age in order to join the US Army.

He travelled across the Atlantic on the CARPATHIA which rescued survivors from the sunken Titanic on April 15, 1912.  Frank spoke to many of the officers and men of the CARPATHIA about their experiences of that fateful morning.  Frank arrived in Scotland then went by train to England.  He then escorted an officer across the English Channel to France.  The officer carried a briefcase attached to his wrist with handcuffs.  Frank spent some time in France in early 1918 but never saw any combat.

After the war, Frank spent time in New York City in the 1920s.  I asked Frank if New York was like the place described by F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby with all that drinking, partying, bathtub gin, speak-easies, and flapper girls and such.  He paused then slowly replied, “Well, when I wasn’t at the gymnasium with my buddy, I spent most of my time at the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church.”  I laughed and chuckled at that and Frank looked up at me with smile and a twinkle in his eye.  I replied, “Ok, Frank – I understand.  I had asked the wrong person about what the wild side of the Roaring 20s were really like.”

Frank spent 39 months in a Japanese POW Camp during WWII as a civilian.  He was captured in the Philippines.  He was there for business with the shipping line for which he worked when the war broke out in December, 1941.  Frank had a small metal cup in which his food ration was placed each day by the Japanese.  He still has the cup today.

Frank travelled far and wide after the Second World War.  He always loved driving and only stopped driving when he was 102 years old – and that was only because his daughter Susannah asked him to stop.  Frank always knew he would live to be 100 years old but never figured he would be America’s last WWI veteran.

I visited Frank a second time in August, 2008.  I asked him to sign a few items for me including a copy of Walter Lord’s 1955 book A Night To Remember, which is about the final hours the HMS TITANIC.  My copy is a limited edition from the Easton Press signed by the author Walter Lord around 1998.  I thought it would be appropriate for Frank to sign this book since he travelled across the Atlantic in late 1917 on the CARPATHIA.  I will be donating this book plus all other signed items, photographs, and tape recordings of my interviews with Frank to Southwest Collections / Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University.

David DeJonge’s (pronounced “De Young”) has been researching and recording Mr. Buckles’ life for some time and has compiled a large amount of information on this website at: http://pershingslastpatriot.com/

When I emailed David DeJonge a few weeks ago, he said Frank’s health is good and he is in fine spirits but no longer gives interviews.  For those who want to pass along a message to Mr. Buckles, please visit Mr. DeJonge’s website for information.

John W. McCullough
www.researchwars.org

www.breedlove-cptp.org

February 2, 2011


One of two birthday cakes baked by United Supermarkets in Lubbock, Texas for the 110th birthday of Mr. Buckles.  The birthday party will be held in his honor (although he will not be present) on Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. at TTU Southwest Collections.  I will be donating the materials from my two visits with him to Southwest Collections.  Items donated include the cassette tapes from the interviews, a signed copy of A Night To Remember, photographs on CD, and a collection of photos from his daughter, Susannah Flanagan.




Frank Buckles is now America's last WWI Veteran.  He is 110 years old as of February 1, 2011.  Happy Birthday, Frank!

Note:  Of special interest to me, Mr. Buckles was born in the same year as Mr. William Clent Breedlove, about seven months before Breedlove was born.



Mr. Buckles signed a copy of Walter Lord's A Night To Remember (also signed by Mr. Lord).  The book is about the final hours of and sinking of the TITANIC on April 14-15, 1912.  The significance of this is that Mr. Buckles sailed on board the CARPATHIA in December, 1917 across the Atlantic to Scotland.  The CARPATHIA rescued the survivors from the TITANIC five years earlier.  Mr. Buckles talked to many of the men and officers of the CARPATHIA about their memories of the TITANIC disaster.






Frank's daughter, Susannah, points out her dad in the Ft. Riley, Kansas detachment.






More photos from the 110th birthday party held in Frank Buckes' honor at Texas Tech Univeristy's Southwest Collections / Special Collections Library.  The party was held on Thursday, February 3, 2011, just two days after Frank's birthday.  Frank could not be in attendance for this party but we had a good time looking through the items I have collected from my two trips to visit with him.  About twenty persons attended.  Both birthday cakes were baked by United Supermarket's bakery at 82nd Street and Frankford Ave, Lubbock, TX.










Before I visited Mr. Buckles, I called Mr. Lloyd Brown of Maryland.  I sent him a letter in May of 2006 asking for an interview.  I never heard back so I called him in the fall of 2006.  It was quite an amazing feeling to pick up the phone one Tuesday night in late 2006 and dial 10 numbers and realize that I was about to talk to a WWI veteran.  I began seeing decade after decade of time roll back through the 20th century as the phone rang.

A scraggly voice answered, "Hello?"

I replied, "May I speak to Lloyd Brown?"

"Yes, this is Lloyd."

I then explained who I was and asked if he had receieved my letter back in May and could I please interview him over the phone or in person.

He abruptly replied, "Yes, I received it and No I am not interested!" -- then immediately hung up.




Scan of article from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal dated November 11, 2005.




These items related to Frank Buckles and WWI were donated to Southwest Collections by John McCullough.  Mr. Buckles signed the book A Night To Remember, also signed by the author Walter Lord.




Janet Neugebauer scoops up some ice cream at the party.  Small size glass Coca-cola and Dr Pepper bottles were purchased from United Supermarkets to relect upon the time long ago in WWI when all soda pop came in bottle.  All other food and drink items also were purchased from United.






Dr. Monte Monroe of Southwest Collections looks over the items donated about Frank Buckles while Dr. Tai Kreidler talks to Bill Tynan.






Dr. Tai Kreidler of TTU Southwest Collections and John W. McCullough closing up the 110th birthday party for Frank Buckles, Americs's last WWI Veteran.






Carrie Thornton and Brad Tollefson of the Texas Tech University newspaper, The Daily Toreador, dropped by Southwest Collections on Thursday, February 10, 2011 to interview me (John McCullough) about Frank Buckles.  The DT saw the article about Buckles in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and called me.  The DT article will be published on Friday, February 11, 2011.  (In the background to the left are two of the scale models of Breedlove Airport and Dagley Field built by Mr. Aaron Shenefelt and Mr. Joe Engelhardt, graduate students in TTU Architecture.)


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