WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) yesterday introduced a resolution honoring Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last surviving American veteran of World War I. The measure authorizes Mr. Buckles to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda upon his death. By order of the President, he will then be interred at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
"Mr. Buckles is our last link to an important part of our nation's history," Burr said. "By honoring him, we pay our final respects to an entire generation of Americans who fought in the ‘Great War.' I am pleased to sponsor this resolution with Senator Byrd honoring the patriotism and dedication of Mr. Buckles and all who served during World War I."
"West Virginian Frank Woodruff Buckles, at the impressive age of 107, is the last surviving American veteran of "the Great War," World War I," Byrd said. "The life story of Mr. Buckles admirably reflects the great courage and sacrifice of the 4.7 million Americans who served in that war, including 58,053 West Virginians. From a 16-year old ambulance driver in France during World War I to an enemy prisoner in the Philippines during World War II, to working his family's farm in West Virginia, Frank Buckles exemplifies the American ideals of bravery, perseverance, and patriotism. I am honored to cosponsor this resolution to honor Frank Woodruff Buckles and, through him, his generation of World War I military veterans."
To justify the use of the Capitol Rotunda for this distinct and solemn honor, the resolution reads:
Whereas the veterans of the First World War fought bravely
and made heroic sacrifices for the Allied forces; and
Whereas past resolutions have sought authorization for
American heroes to lie in honor in the rotunda of the Capitol
upon an individual's passing, it is the Nation's collective
desire to express its gratitude for the service of all
World War I veterans by making it known to that war's
last American survivor the honor it wishes to bestow on
him before he passes.
Buckles joined the Army in 1917 and deployed to England following basic training. He was soon moved to France, where he served as an ambulance driver. He escorted prisoners of war back to Germany following the end of hostilities in November 1918. Buckles left the Army a Corporal in 1920 and began a career as a merchant seaman. His work took him to the Philippines in 1941, where he was taken prisoner by the Japanese. He spent over three years as a civilian prisoner of war at Los Baños, where he was rescued by American military forces in 1945. After the war he moved to West Virginia and bought a farm, where he lives today.