KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last known living American-born veteran of World War I, was honored Sunday at the Liberty Memorial during Memorial Day weekend celebrations.
“I had a feeling of longevity and that I might be among those who survived, but I didn’t know I’d be the No. 1,” the 107-year-old veteran said at a ceremony to unveil his portrait.
His photograph was hung in the main hallway of the National World War I Museum, which he toured for the first time, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States presented him with a gold medal of merit.
Today, he will be presented the American flag flying outside the memorial.
Federal officials have also arranged for his burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
Born in Missouri in 1901 and raised in Oklahoma, Buckles visited a string of military recruiters after the United States entered the “war to end all wars” in April 1917.
He was rejected by the Marines and the Navy, but eventually convinced an Army captain he was 18 and enlisted, saying Missouri didn’t keep public records of birth.
Buckles sailed for England in 1917 on the Carpathia, which is known for its rescue of Titanic survivors, and spent his tour of duty working mainly as a driver and a warehouse clerk in Germany and France. He rose to the rank of corporal and after Armistice Day he helped return prisoners of war to Germany.