Frank Woodruff Buckles (born Wood Buckles, February 1, 1901 – February 27, 2011) was a United States Army soldier and the last surviving American veteran of World War I. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917 and served with a detachment from Fort Riley, driving ambulances and motorcycles near the front lines in Europe.
Five months after the American entry into World War I, Buckles sought to enlist in the armed forces. He was turned down by the Marine Corps for being too small, and by the Navy, which claimed that he had flat feet. He fared better with the Army, which accepted that he was an adult even though he looked no older than his 16 years. A sergeant advised that a middle initial would be helpful, so he adopted his uncle’s name, “Frank Woodruff Buckles”. Another sergeant suggested that the quickest way to the front lines would be to seek a position driving ambulances.
Buckles enlisted on August 14, 1917, and went through basic training at Fort Riley in Kansas. Later that year, he embarked for Europe aboard the RMS Carpathia, which was being used as a troop ship. During the war, Buckles drove ambulances and motorcycles for the Army’s 1st Fort Riley Casual Detachment, first in England and then France.