Frank Buckles had to tell a lot of stories before he finally got indoctrinated into the US Army at age 16.5. Neither the Marine recruiter nor the Navy one was buying his story of being legally ready. But he persevered.
In 1917 and 1918, close to 5 million Americans served in World War I, and Mr. Buckles, a cordial fellow of gentle humor, was the last known survivor. “I knew there’d be only one someday,” he said a few years back. “I didn’t think it would be me.”
Mr. Buckles, a widower, died on his West Virginia farm, said his daughter, Susannah Buckles Flanagan, who had been caring for him there.
Flanagan, 55, said her father had recently recovered from a chest infection and seemed in reasonably good health for a man his age. At 12:15 a.m. Sunday, he summoned his live-in nurse to his bedroom. As the nurse looked on, Flanagan said, Mr. Buckles drew a breath, and his eyes fell shut.
One hundred and ten years old, a veteran of The Great War and survivor of Japanese internment in World War II.
Dying in his own bed on his own farm with one last look at a nurse before he went.
That’s a good way to go.