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The National Centenarian Awareness Project
salutes our veterans who fought
The Great War "Over There."

Last known World War I veteran, 107, campaigns for memorial
By Dave Montgomery | McClatchy Newspapers
September 9, 2008


Frank Buckles, 107

WASHINGTON More than nine decades after driving ambulances on the battlefields of Europe, 107-year-old Frank Woodruff Buckles is the nation's last known survivor of World War I. Now he's also become the face of an ambitious campaign to erect a national memorial honoring the 4.6 million Americans who endured "the war to end all wars.''
        ...Buckles was born in 1901 in Harrison County, Mo. He lied about his age to enlist, telling a skeptical recruiter that Missouri didn't keep birth records when he was born. He was dispatched to England, then France, where he served as an ambulance driver. After the armistice, he delivered German POWs back to their home country.
        Buckles spent the next 20 years as a merchant seaman before he was entangled in another world war. He was working in the Philippines in 1941 and was captured by the Japanese shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He spent the next three and a half years in Japanese prison camps.
        After World War II, he returned to the United States, married and settled down on a 33-acre West Virginia farm, where he still lives. His wife died in 1999.
        Buckles said World War I faded from his memory as he lived through the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, the brutal experiences of World War II prison camps and the decades of mind-boggling technological advances that have accompanied him into a second century. But he said he'd started recalling many of his World War I days now that he'd been asked to participate in the movement to erect a memorial. ...
(excerpt; click for full article: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/174/story/52165.html)

Photo: Pete Souza / Chicago Tribune / MCT

 

Lloyd Botimer, 104, served at the front in the battle of Verdun, "one of the bloodiest battles in history," tells Lloyd. "It is hard for people today to understand, but at that time there was a real feeling that we Americans were doing something good. We were making the world safe for Democracy. Patriotism ran very high and you wanted to be part of it."


WWI Vet Lloyd Botimer, 104

PHOENIX, May 2, 1999 — The Arizona Republic has reported that Mr. Botimer, one of the oldest living World War I veterans in the Phoenix metro area, died of pneumonia Friday evening, April 30th.  

His death came only two days after he received the French Legion of Honor in front of nearly 100 fellow Camelback Rotary Club members and U.S. and Arizona veterans organizations. The honor is the highest bestowed by France to a civilian. — The Arizona Republic

Lloyd Botimer in his uniform, circa 1918 
Lloyd Botimer in his uniform.
The photo was taken in 1918.


After learning of his passing, Lynn Adler conveyed the following:

The fact that Lloyd achieved the earned distinction of receiving the French Legion of Honor medal is significant. Lloyd's strong will and spirit were exemplary to the end. Despite being ill, Lloyd carried through with the planned ceremony because of shear determination; he really wanted that medal!

It seems to us that he did not change. I vividly recall his telling us in detail of his experience in the Battle of Verdun at the edge of the Argonne Forest and how he was prepared to go into battle with his troops rather then remain in safety behind the lines, as his rank permitted. He was courageous and honest and pure of spirit and I admired him so.



 
WWI Vet Basilio Imbergia, 102

Basilio Imbergia, 102, emigrated from Italy shortly before WWI began. Soon after, he was drafted and sent to fight in France. He received the Military Order of The Purple Heart after surviving the battle of the Argonne Forest. "I can still remember the horrible sounds of the shells exploding all around us and overhead," says Basilio. "Even today, after all these years, if I hear a fork drop on the floor I jump. Only 15 men in my company made it out alive."

 

Herb Kirk, 103, was a naval aviator in WWI, who quit college to enlist and learn to fly. "I wanted to be an Ace," recalls Herb, "it seemed exciting. But before we left our flight school in Florida to go overseas, half the men in my class had either been killed or severely injured. It was really flying by the seat of our pants!"

 WWI Vet Herb Kirk, 103

In appreciation of their service on French soil, the government of France is awarding the Chevalier Cross of the Legion of Honor and a commemorative certificate to all veterans and non-combat personnel who served in France during World War I.

Many who were at the Front believe they only survived because the Armistice was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The French Ambassador to Britain said it's a duty to remember these veterans. We believe that's true for all of us.


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