WASHINGTON – Calling it a high honor, President Bush on Thursday warmly greeted 107-year-old Frank Woodruff Buckles, described by the White House as the last known surviving American-born veteran of World War I.
"Mr. Buckles' mind is sharp, his memory is crisp, and he's been sharing with me some interesting anecdotes," Bush said in the Oval Office. Buckles, in a wheelchair to Bush's right, sat quietly with his hands clasped as the president spoke during a short photo opportunity.
Bush said that before reporters came into the room, Buckles had recalled chatting with Gen. John J. Pershing, a legendary figure from World War I.
Eager to get in the Army in 1917, Buckles lied to a military recruiter about his age and enlisted at the start of the U.S. involvement in the war. He served in the United States, Britain, Germany and France. By 1920, he was discharged with the rank of corporal.
"Mr. Buckles has a vivid recollection of historic times," Bush said. "And one way for me to honor the service of those who wear the uniform in the past and those who wear it today is to herald you, sir, and to thank you very much for your patriotism and your love for America."
Buckles, a resident of Charles Town, W.Va., was born in 1901.