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Obama, Biden pay respects to last WWI vet

March 15, 2011 at 5:28 PM
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ARLINGTON, Va., March 15 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday went to Arlington cemetery to pay last respects to Frank Buckles, the last U.S. World War I veteran.

Buckles, a Bethany, Mo., native who lived most of his post-war years in Charles Town, W.Va., died Feb. 27 at the age of 110.

The unscheduled foray included 10 minutes in the Amphitheater Chapel before Buckles was to be interred in Section 34 of the cemetery at 4 p.m. with full military honors near Gen. John Pershing, the leader of the U.S. Expeditionary Forces, Arlington National Cemetery said on its Web site.

The Buckles family and the West Virginia congressional delegation had asked for a public viewing of Buckles' body in the Capitol rotunda. The request, however, was denied by House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid since the practice generally is reserved for presidents, senators and general.

Buckles was a corporal, one of 4.7 million Americans who served in the war. He enlisted in 1917 at the age of 16, lying to recruiters about his age. He served in England and France as a driver and warehouse clerk, and was discharged in 1920.

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