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"It's best for anyone who's been in the military service if he's had some disagreeable experiences... to talk about it and get it out of his system and then forget it." (Audio Interview, 1:27.23)

   Frank Woodruff Buckles
Image of Frank Woodruff Buckles
Frank Woodruff Buckles [undated]
War: World War, 1914-1918; World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army
Unit: 1st Fort Riley Casual Detachment; 122nd Prisoner of War Escort Casualty Detachment Demobilization Group
Service Location: United States; England; France; Germany
Rank: Corporal
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An underage but eager recruit, Frank Buckles lied to a military recruiter to get into the Army, then pestered his officers to be shipped out to France. He drove motorcycles, cars, and ambulances in England and France, and during the Occupation, he guarded German prisoners. Buckles eventually went to work for the White Star steamship line and was in Manila on business in December 1941 when the Japanese attacked. He spent over three years as a prisoner at the city's University of Santo Tomas. His collection includes three interviews, given when he was 100, 103, and 107 years old. When he died in February 2011, Mr. Buckles was the last known surviving American veteran of World War I.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (2 clips)
»Primary Interview  
Download: video (1) | video (2) | video (3) (148 min.)
»Secondary Video Interview  (59 min.)
Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (11 clips)
»Complete Interview  (94 min.)
»Transcript
  Photos
»Photo Album (7 photos)
 Official Documents
»View List (7 items)
 Other Materials
»View List (2 items)
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»WWI
»10th Anniversary
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (2 items)
Interest in joining the military; lying about his age to get into the Army; training in makeshift trenches under British officers. (05:24) His claim that he was a bank clerk almost landed him an office job with the Army, but he was assigned to drive around visiting VIPs in a motorcycle sidebar or in a car; three buddies getting into trouble. (04:27) 
  
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (11 items)
Shipping out to England on the Carpathia, ship which rescued survivors of the Titanic; pestering officers to get assigned to duty in France. (03:16) French soldiers were spirited, though they were paid little for their service. (00:47) Going through the mess line a second time and giving his food to French children. (01:06)
Taking prisoners back to Germany on a train; getting some exercise when the train stopped, he missed his coach car and had to ride in a freight car with the prisoners; years later in Brazil, meeting a man who was also in that car. (02:08) Getting leave in France; using cigarettes as currency; staying at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Biarritz; taking extra time and being charged with going AWOL; punishment waived by an envious noncom. (05:53) Guarding German prisoners; recalling only the pleasant incidents; a lone American taking prisoners out on work detail, the guard getting drunk during the day and the prisoners carrying him back to camp in a wheelbarrow. (02:55)
Readjustment to civilian life; accustomed to being treated as an adult, even though he was still 18, so he struck out on his own; given only small consideration as a veteran. (01:55) Getting a medal from the president of France in 1999; written up in Life magazine; meeting another WWI veteran at an event in Oregon organized by a high school teacher named Buckles. (03:56) Attending business school with other vets, many of them supported by the government; few could afford to buy civilian shirts, so they wore farm overalls. (01:28)
Working for the White Star steamship line in the 1930s and 1940s; in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked in December 1941; taken prisoner and held for over 3 years. (12:25) Making a choice to avoid the military after the war; going into a war understanding the big picture; the sense of abandonment felt by people in the Orient during WWII, when the U.S. was concentrating on Europe. (04:02) 
  
 Official Documents (7 items)
Special Orders #264 [9/21/1919] Enlistment record for Frank W. Buckles [notarized 5/18/1920] Special Orders No. 29 [9/29/1919]
Honorable Discharge [11/13/1919] Appointment to Corporal [9/22/1919] Special Orders No. 253 [11/10/1919]
Envelope with typed description of military papers kept in a safe deposit box  
  
 Other Materials (2 items)
Biographical information written by veteran Transcript of interview [12/19/2001] 
  
 
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  October 26, 2011
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