Buckles, et al.
The last living veteran of World War I to serve in Europe, Frank Woodruff Buckles — one of only three living World War I veterans in the U.S. — was in Washington for the American Veteran Center’s 10th annual conference at the Renaissance Washington Hotel.
The 106-year-old Mr. Buckles, who can still drive his tractor around his 330-acre farm in Charles Town, W.Va., enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917, when he was only 16 years old. He claimed that birth certificates weren’t issued in the Missouri town where he was born. He was sent to England and France, where he was assigned to the Army Ambulance Service. When the war ended, he helped escort German prisoners back home.
During World War II, he fared much worse, captured by the Japanese while working for an American shipping interest in the Philippines. He was imprisoned for nearly four years, and was finally freed with 2,147 other prisoners during a daring raid by the 11th Airborne Division.
The annual gathering of decorated military combat veterans, said to be among the largest in the country, also saluted several of the greatest heroes of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.