The life of Frank Buckles in some ways tracks a timeline for the rise of America as a superpower. He has been witness to it all, and he is one of very few living to tell about it.
At age 106, Buckles is one of only three known living American veterans of World War I, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“For many years, I would read the figures in The Torch [a veterans magazine] in two columns — one was the number of 4.7 million-something veterans who served, and the other, which kept going down, was the number of us that were still alive,” Buckles said. “I knew one day it would come to this. But I didn’t think I would be one of the few still around to talk about it.”
Buckles is the youngest of the three known living U.S. World War I veterans. His voice is raspy, he has difficulty walking, and he needs help getting dressed each morning. But his mind is keen, and the memories of his two years in Europe during the war remain clear.