February 28, 2011

"As time thinned the ranks of those long-ago U.S. veterans, the nation hardly noticed them vanishing, until the roster dwindled to one ex-soldier..."

Frank W. Buckles, the last American WWI veteran, has died at the age of 110. He "was born by lantern light in a Missouri farmhouse, quit school at 16 and bluffed his way into the Army."


Trooper York said...

May God have mercy on his soul.

He is someone we should all celebrate.

C R Krieger said...

The war to end all wars.

God Bless him.

Regards  —  Cliff

chickelit said...

Someone should make a movie out of the guy's life. Seriously.

former law student said...

As a name, "Frank Buckles" sounds implausible. I wonder if he was born Frank Buchholz, and changed his name to avoid sounding like a Hun.

edutcher said...

Our participation in that war was an extension of Mr Wilson's colossal vanity, but, like the Mexican War, it was the training ground for those who would lead in the next war.

Corporal Buckles is emblematic of a kind of patriotism the Left can't comprehend and at which it sneers.

Thank you, Corporal.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chip Ahoy said...

I noticed the rooster getting thinner too. The cockadoodledo became barely audible, and now it's gone.

Trooper York said...

If you want to honor and learn something about a veteran of a later era....you should go to chickelit's superb blog "EL Pollo Real" and read his touching and heartfelt series of posts entitled
Letters Home.

It is a record of the letters from chickelit's father to his own parents as he went through basic and on to serve his country.

You can learn about a real American hero just like Mr. Buckles.

Honest. Humble. Brave. A true Patriot.

It will be time well spent. I promise you.

kimsch said...

This is strange. On the first day of this month I was at the James Lovell Federal Health Care Center (first and only of its kind - formerly VAMC North Chicago and the Great Lakes Naval health facility) and there was something on the news that day about the Mr. Buckles being 110 and the last surviving WWI vet. I mentioned this to a couple of Vets I saw that day. Now, on the last day of the same month comes the news that he's died.

Rest in Peace Mr. Buckles.

SteveR said...

Go in peace Mr Buckles.

traditionalguy said...

In Flander's fields the poppies blow, between the crosses row on row. He was fortunate to have lived through it. WWI came at a transition age when nO one knew how to fight against the new massed artillery barrages and machine guns, not to mention poison gas, the first tanks and finally close air support. And then came the Spanish Influensa.

Trooper York said...

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling

From glen to glen, and down the mountainside.
The summer's gone, and all the flow'rs are dying.
'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer's in the meadow
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow.
'Tis I'll be here, in sunshine or in shadow,
Oh, Danny boy, oh, Danny boy, I love you so.

And when ye come, and all the roses falling.
If I am dead, as dead I well may be,
Ye'll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an "ave" there for me.
And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above me,
And, all my grave shall warmer, sweeter be,
For you will bend and tell me that you love me,
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.
Oh, Danny Boy, Oh, Danny Boy, I love you so

BJM said...

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

Godspeed Corporal Buckles

Trooper York said...

Newspaper reporter: [speaking of Col. Thursday] But what of the men who died with him? What of Collingworth and...
Captain Yorke: Collingwood.
Newspaper reporter: Oh, of course, Collingwood.
Reporter: That's the ironic part of it. We always remember the Thursdays, but the others are forgotten.
Captain Yorke: You're wrong there. They aren't forgotten because they haven't died. They're living - right out there.
[points out the window]
Captain Yorke: Collingwood and the rest. And they'll keep on living as long as the regiment lives. The pay is thirteen dollars a month; their diet: beans and hay. Maybe horsemeat before this campaign is over. Fight over cards or rotgut whiskey, but share the last drop in their canteens. The faces may change... the names... but they're there: they're the regiment... the regular army... now and fifty years from now. They're better men than they used to be. Thursday did that. He made it a command to be proud of.
(Fort Apache, 1948)

Trooper York said...

When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you'll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, 'They are dead.' Then add thereto,
'Yet many a better one has died before.'
Then, scanning all the o'ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.
(Charles Sorely)

Methadras said...

Rest In Peace. Thank you for your sacrifice wherever you may be, fine sir. The circle is complete.

Trooper York said...

"Please wear a Poppy", the lady said
And held one forth, but I shook my head.
Then I stopped to watched to see how she would fare -
Her face was old and lined with care,
But beneath the scars that the years had made
There remained a smile that refused to fade.

A boy came whistling down the street,
Bouncing along on carefree feet.
His smile was full of joy and fun,
"Lady", he said, "may I have one?"
As she pinned it on I heard him say
"Why do we wear a Poppy today?"

The lady smiled in her wistful way
And answered, " This is Remembrance Day.
The Poppy there is a symbol for
The gallant men who died in war,
And because they did, you and I are free.
That's why we wear a Poppy, you see!"

"I had a boy about your size,
With golden hair and big blue eyes.
He loved to play, and jump and shout -
Free as a bird he would race about.
As years went on he learned and grew
And became a man as you will too".

"He was fine and strong with a boyish smile,
But he seemed with us just a little while.
When war broke out he went away -
I still remember his face that day,
When he smiled at me and said, "Goodbye -
I'll be back soon, so please don't cry".

"But the war went on and he had to stay -
All I could do was wait and pray.
His letters told of the awful fight -
I can still see it in my dreams at night.
With tanks and guns and cruel barbed wire,
And mines and bullets, the bombs and fire".

"Until at last the war was won,
And that's why we wear a Poppy, son".
The small boy turned as if to go
Then said, "Thanks lady, I'm glad to know.
That sure did sound like an awful fight,
But your son - did he come home all right?"
A tear rolled down each faded cheek -
She shook her head but didn't speak.
I slunk away - head bowed in shame
And if you were with me, you'd have done the same.
For our thanks in giving is oft delayed,
Though our freedom was bought and thousands paid.

And so you see - when a Poppy is worn,
Let us reflect on the burden borne
By all those who gave their very all
When asked to answer their Country's call.
That we at home in peace may live -
Then wear a Poppy - remember - and give!

bagoh20 said...

Even 110 years is not enough time.

MadisonMan said...

Mr. Buckles sounds like a clown name to me.

As I said in another thread, you deserve your rest Frank Buckles. When will the last WWII vet die? 2030? That's not very far away.

Trooper York said...

The plunging limbers over the shattered track
Racketed with their rusty freight,
Stuck out like many crowns of thorns,
And the rusty stakes like sceptres old
To stay the flood of brutish men
Upon our brothers dear.

The wheels lurched over sprawled dead
But pained them not, though their bones crunched,
Their shut mouths made no moan,
They lie there huddled, friend and foeman,
Man born of man, and born of woman,
And shells go crying over them
From night till night and now.

Earth has waited for them
All the time of their growth
Fretting for their decay:
Now she has them at last!
In the strength of their strength
Suspended--stopped and held.

What fierce imaginings their dark souls lit
Earth! have they gone into you?
Somewhere they must have gone,
And flung on your hard back
Is their souls' sack,
Emptied of God-ancestralled essences.
Who hurled them out? Who hurled?

None saw their spirits' shadow shake the grass,
Or stood aside for the half used life to pass
Out of those doomed nostrils and the doomed mouth,
When the swift iron burning bee
Drained the wild honey of their youth.

What of us, who flung on the shrieking pyre,
Walk, our usual thoughts untouched,
Our lucky limbs as on ichor fed,
Immortal seeming ever?
Perhaps when the flames beat loud on us,
A fear may choke in our veins
And the startled blood may stop.

The air is loud with death,
The dark air spurts with fire
The explosions ceaseless are.
Timelessly now, some minutes past,
These dead strode time with vigorous life,
Till the shrapnel called 'an end!'
But not to all. In bleeding pangs
Some borne on stretchers dreamed of home,
Dear things, war-blotted from their hearts.

A man's brains splattered on
A stretcher-bearer's face;
His shook shoulders slipped their load,
But when they bent to look again
The drowning soul was sunk too deep
For human tenderness.

They left this dead with the older dead,
Stretched at the cross roads.
Burnt black by strange decay,
Their sinister faces lie
The lid over each eye,
The grass and coloured clay
More motion have than they,
Joined to the great sunk silences.

Here is one not long dead;
His dark hearing caught our far wheels,
And the choked soul stretched weak hands
To reach the living word the far wheels said,
The blood-dazed intelligence beating for light,
Crying through the suspense of the far torturing wheels
Swift for the end to break,
Or the wheels to break,
Cried as the tide of the world broke over his sight.

Will they come? Will they ever come?
Even as the mixed hoofs of the mules,
The quivering-bellied mules,
And the rushing wheels all mixed
With his tortured upturned sight,
So we crashed round the bend,
We heard his weak scream,
We heard his very last sound,
And our wheels grazed his dead face.

(Issac Rosenberg)

lohwoman said...

There is a documentary planned for 2012, "Pershing's Last Patriot."

deborah said...

These men, and those who opposed them
And those whom they opposed
Accept the constitution of silence
And are folded in a single party.
Whatever we inherit from the fortunate
We have taken from the defeated
What they had to leave us—a symbol:
A symbol perfected in death.
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
By the purification of the motive
In the ground of our beseeching.

-TS Eliot

virgil xenophon said...

I'm of an age to remember the last Civil War survivors when they were still alive..we're slowly losing our links--however tenuous--to an America that no longer exists.When the last of the WW II vets die the links will be truly severed--with only their Vietnam era children veterans as a ghost-like floating second-hand memory remnant..

Cedarford said...

Buckles is his real name. He had relatives come from Yorkshire. His real 1st name was "Brown". He was an intelligent, adventurous person, belying his HS dropout status. He studied French architecture and art when not at the Front. Taught himself German and stayed helping repatriate Germans at War's end until 1920. He then learned typing, shorthand and Merchant Marine skills and sailed the world, some 60 countries port of calls. He was at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and feted the USA team. In 1941, he and his ship crew were captured by the Japanese and held as a POW, he was one of those freed on the daring Los Banos prison camp raid in 1945.

That was the early years.
Then he had 70 more years of adventures.

When people asked him how it felt being the one remaining, he said after the Great War he knew there would be a big deal made about the last one, just like there was about the last Civil War vet (and he was familiar with a few of THOSE Vets as a boy). But said he never thought he'd be the last. "It feels odd, honestly. No great purpose to it all..just how it turned out."

Mentally sharp to the end and with a sense of humor, he joked he was too old to enjoy "those Groupies" now he was famous...and related that he felt honored when he was asked to attend commemoration events when he was old and Vets were dying off. "But that was 40 years ago. I should have waited until I was older, taken more walks in the woods."

chickelit said...

You are too kind Trooper.
Thank You

I don't know any WWI poetry but there's always a bit of the Pogues, "And The band Played Waltzing Matilda" link

William said...

I have read several books abot WWI and the peace process thereafter. There's nothing good you can say about any of it. "For an old bitch gone in the teeth/For a botched civilization." We like to have narratives with good guys and bad guys, but it seems to me that all were equally mad. Left, right, radical, all of them were crazy. Only Jehovah Witnesses look good in retrospect. Well, we live forward and understand backwards. Buckles did the honorable thing, and I'm glad it worked out for him. But those endless rows of graves at the Somme and Ypres should give us all pause about the innate stupidity of great causes.

shiloh said...

Find the cost of freedom buried in the ground
Mother Earth will swallow you, lay your body down

PaulV said...

My brother took sabbatical in Brisbane and his two daughters got to march with classmate in the ANZAC parades. They took WWI seriously there.

SGT Ted said...

There's a special place in my NCO heart for the young man who seeks the company of warriors when bullets are flying; when he can hear the sound of the guns.

A young man who tried to fraudulently enlist (bless them for their heart) today would never be allowed to.

In some ways, it's a dirty shame.

Big Mike said...

The news made me think of this.

SGT Ted said...

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly?

Did they sound the Dead March as they lowered you down ?

And did the the band play The Last Post and chorus ?

Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest ?

SGT Ted said...

Shiloh, there are no truer words than those lyrics.

former law student said...

A young man who tried to fraudulently enlist (bless them for their heart) today would never be allowed to.

I worked with a guy who (claimed anyways) that he enlisted in the Army during WW II when he was 14 years old. This would have been in 1943, and apparently there were plenty of baby-faced youths enlisting.

After several months, the Army found out he was only 14, and discharged him.

His story continued: When the draft was revived in the late 40s, he was 18 or 19 and had to register, but he showed them his discharge papers and was exempt.

Karga said...

To the soldier thank you sir.... may you rest in peace.

To Trooper York thank you for reminding us that we are only human... we really celebrate him.

JAL said...

When we were in France last year at this time -- I was struck by the number of French WWI cemeteries.

It was an awful war even as wars go.

May Cpl Buckles' reward be just and merciful and good.

We remember you and your friends.

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