A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Echoes of the Bugle Fade Away

There is only one US veteran of World War I still alive, after the death of Harry Landis on Monday:
Harry Richard Landis, who enlisted in the Army in 1918 and was one of only two known surviving U.S. veterans of World War I, has died. He was 108.

Landis, who lived at a Sun City Center nursing home, died Monday, according to Donna Riley, his caregiver for the past five years. He had recently been in the hospital with a fever and low blood pressure, she said.

"He only took vitamins and eye drops, no other medication," Riley said Wednesday. "He was 108 and a healthy man. That's why all of this was sudden and unexpected. He was so full of life."

The remaining U.S. veteran is Frank Buckles, 107, of Charles Town, W.Va., according the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, John Babcock of Spokane, Wash., 107, served in the Canadian army and is the last known Canadian veteran of the war.

Another World War I vet, Ohioan J. Russell Coffey, died in December at 109. The last known German World War I veteran, Erich Kaestner, died New Year's Day at 107.

Landis trained as a U.S. Army recruit for 60 days at the end of the war and never went overseas. But the VA counts him among the 4.7 million men and woman who served during the Great War.

The last time all known U.S. veterans of a war died was Sept. 10, 1992, when Spanish-American War veteran Nathan E. Cook passed away at age 106.

In an interview with The Associated Press in April in his Sun City Center apartment, Landis recalled that his time in the Student Army Training Corps involved a lot of marching. VA records show his entry date into the service was Oct. 14, 1918.

"I don't remember too much about it," said Landis, who enlisted while in college in Fayette, Mo., at age 18. "We went to school in the afternoon and drilled in the morning."

They often drilled in their street clothes.

"We got our uniforms a bit at a time. Got the whole uniform just before the war ended," Landis said. "Fortunately, we got our great coats first. It was very cold out there.

He told reporters in earlier interviews that he spent a lot of time cleaning up a makeshift sick ward and caring for recruits sickened by an influenza pandemic.

When asked whether he had wanted to get into the fight, Landis said, "No."

There are more fascinating reminiscences to read; so please follow the link to read the rest of the story. Mr. Landis later tried to enlist in World War II, but was told he was too old at age 42 (If he was attempting enlistment today, he would still be able to enlist under new government policies).

The eyewitnesses to "the Great War" are dwindling every day (My grandfather fought in World War I, but if he were still alive, he would have been 119.). As it was, Mr. Landis never saw combat. No doubt that was a blessing. God bless him, and all who have served.



At 2/6/08, 9:06 PM, Blogger Mrs. T said...

I vaguely remember a long ago Veterans' Day parade in which there were a few WWI vets. Now, our WWII vets are all getting to be quite elderly. We need to remember to talk to them, to listen to what they have to tell us, because soon, they will be gone, too.

At 2/6/08, 9:29 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...



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