The official blog of American Veteran Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy 110th Birthday, Frank Buckles

Frank Buckles, the last surviving American veteran of World War I, celebrated his 110th birthday today at his home in Charles Town, W.V.

AMVETS leaders were honored to join Buckles for a special reception in his honor in 2008, where Past National Commander John P. "JP" Brown III presented Buckles with a plaque acknowledging his uniformed service in WWI and his leadership as a captured American prisoner in World War II, along with an American flag to fly over his ranch in West Virginia.

Buckles enlisted in the Army in 1917 at 16 years-old. Eager to see action at the onset of WWI, he volunteered as an ambulance driver. His service would take him across France and England. Following the Armistice that effectively ended the war, Buckles guarded and transported German POWs on their return to Germany.

A corporal by age 18, Buckles was honorably discharged in 1920. While working as a civilian in the Philippines, Buckles became embroiled in WWII when he was taken prisoner by the Japanese at the fall of Manila. He was interned for more than three years in Japanese prison camps, where he led his fellow prisoners in morning calisthenics.

Upon his release, Buckles married and raised a family on the same West Virginia farm where he lives to this day.

AMVETS Riders from the Department of Tennessee made a special journey to Buckles' farm in 2008 to honor America's last "Doughboy."

AMVETS Riders National Commander Victor “Dutch” Stivason presented Buckles with a letter of appreciation, and then-Tennessee Road Captain Bruce McElhaney presented Buckles with a framed certificate honoring his service. The Riders also presented Buckles with a his own embroidered AMVETS Riders vest and a custom WWI patch on behalf of AMVETS Riders nationwide.

In addition to honors at the U.S. Capitol, Buckles has also been honored by President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. A portrait of Buckles is on display at the Pentagon as part of a tribute to WWI veterans.

(Images: Top: AMVETS Past National Commander John P. "JP" Brown III presents Frank Buckles with a plaque and an American flag, honoring his service at a Capitol Hill ceremony in 2008. Photo by Ryan Gallucci. Bottom: AMVETS Riders join Buckles for a photo at his ranch in Charles Town, W.V., in 2008. Photo courtesy Tennessee AMVETS Riders.)

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