World War I: a War so Great that it demanded a sequel.
One that topped the original.
Long after the guns fell silent on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the one thousand nine hundred and eighteenth year since the year Dennis the Small misidentified as the year Our Lord came in the flesh, the war raged on the in the memory of those caught up in the collective madness that consumed Western Christendom. The last living soldier who experienced World War I died today.
Frank Buckles was 110 years old when he died. He was 16 1/2 when he lied about his age in order to join the U.S. Army:
“I went to the state fair up in Wichita, Kansas, and while there, went to the recruiting station for the Marine Corps,” he said. “The nice Marine sergeant said I was too young when I gave my age as 18, said I had to be 21.”
Buckles returned a week later.
“I went back to the recruiting sergeant, and this time I was 21,” he said with a grin. “I passed the inspection … but he told me I just wasn’t heavy enough.”
Then he tried the Navy, whose recruiter told Buckles he was flat-footed.
Buckles wouldn’t quit. In Oklahoma City, an Army captain demanded a birth certificate.
“I told him birth certificates were not made in Missouri when I was born, that the record was in a family Bible. I said, ‘You don’t want me to bring the family Bible down, do you?'” Buckles said with a laugh. “He said, ‘OK, we’ll take you.'”
He enlisted Aug. 14, 1917, serial number 15577.
His war service wasn’t the end of Buckles’ adventures:
In the 1940s, Buckles worked for a shipping company in Manila, Philippines. He was captured by the Japanese in 1942, and spent the next three and a half years in the Los Baños prison camp. He became malnourished, with a weight below 100 lb, and developed beriberi, yet led his fellow inmates in calisthenics. He was rescued on February 23, 1945.
Buckles married after the war and moved to the farm in West Virginia where he passed away today:
When asked about the secret of his long life, Buckles replied: “Hope,” adding, “[W]hen you start to die… don’t.” He also said the reason he had lived so long was that, “I never got in a hurry.”