Another War Entirely In The Past

Pause a moment in your day to remember Frank Buckles, the last US veteran of World War I, who passed away yesterday at 110. As far as anyone knows, only two other WWI vets are alive in the entire world, both well over 100 years or age.

12 thoughts on “Another War Entirely In The Past

  1. Amazingly enough, Buckles was in the Philippines when WWII started and spent time in a Japanese prison camp. Quite a life.

  2. If I may make a humble suggestion:

    If you have a WWII-era family member, get a recorder and ask him or her about that time. My mother-in-law (age 85) left home at 16, lied about her age to get a job, got a soldier to pretend she was his wife in order to get a bus ride to Galveston, and fibbed about her knowledge of punch machines to get into the secretarial pool. She ended up working for over a year in a unit transcribing war-related communication. She lost friends at Pearl Harbor. Her courtship with her future husband, who was on a bomber crew stationed in Europe), was as fascinating as it was unconventional. She would have newer volunteered any of this information, but she was happy to shared when asked.

    Anyway, raise a glass for CPL Buckles. As his passing illustrates, the folks who lived through WWII won’t be around for long. If you have a chance, ask them about their life.

  3. Ask, and take notes. The stories my parents told one evening we’re still trying to reconstruct, and we haven’t been able to get them to talk about it again.

  4. It’s surprising we had him as long as we did – he, like many, lied about his age and enlisted young – at sixteen if memory serves.

  5. I wish that I had the balls to ask my grandpa about his time serving on a battleship during WWII. He was an odd bird though. He sat on a fresh baked pie once. My grandmother had just taken it from the oven and set it on a chair on their front porch. Moments later gramps decided to have a seat and, well, the pie was destroyed.

  6. My Uncle Jimmy was a WWI vet. He was married to my Mom’s sister who was 15 years older than her. I asked him one time what he did in WWI and he said he used to dance around on top of the trench lines to get the “Huns” to pop up to take a shot at him. When they did, his buddies would pick them off as they popped up. I have no idea as to whether this was factual or not, but he did receive two Purple Hearts and several other medals – all of which were given to his son from a previous marriage. He passed away back in 1977, I believe he was in his late seventies at the time…that would make sense chronologically. There were a large group of VFW members at the funeral who were really sad to see him go. I wished I had learned more about his experiences in the Great War. I also had an Uncle who fought in the Pacific during WWII. He was a Marine and fought at Guadalcanal and later, Iwo Jima. He would never talk about the war. The only thing he ever said about his time in the Marines was once when we were all watching Gomer Pyle (first run way back in the Sixties). Uncle John said, “That fella would’ve never made it past my drill sergeant.” I found long after he had passed away (he died in the late Sixties) that my uncle and one other guy were the only two Marines from his platoon that survived the fighting at Iwo Jima. Apparently his rifle company was among the first to land there during the offensive. My mother shared this with me about a decade ago when I was asking her questions about her life…she passed on in 2003.

    If you have any living family members who belong to the greatest generation, I urge you to ask them to share their experiences with you. It will give you a really different perspective on life and something unique to pass on to your children.

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