Saturday, December 29, 2007

Faded Love and Devotion

Oldest known U.S. W W I survivor dies at 109
By JOHN SEEWER, Associated Press
Toledo, Ohio — J. Russell Coffey, the oldest known surviving U.S. veteran of World War I, has died. The retired teacher, one of only three U.S. veterans from the "war to end all wars," was 109.
Private First Class Coffey died Thursday at the Briar Hill Health Campus in North Baltimore, where he had lived the past four or five years, said Gaye Boggs, nursing director at the nursing home. No cause of death has been determined, she said today. His health began failing in October.

The two remaining U.S. veterans are Frank Buckles, 106, of Charles Town, W.Va.; and Harry Richard Landis, 108, of Sun City Center, Fla., according to the Veterans Affairs Department. In addition, John Babcock, 107, of Spokane, Wash., served in the Canadian army and is the last known Canadian veteran of the war.

Coffey once confided to his daughter, Betty Jo Larsen, that he wished people would remember his contributions rather than his old age. "He told me 'even a prune can get old,'" she said last spring. She died in September.

Coffey had enlisted in the Army while he was a student at Ohio State University in October 1918, a month before the Allied powers and Germany signed a cease-fire agreement. He was discharged a month after the war ended. His two older brothers fought overseas, and he was disappointed at the time that the war ended before he shipped out.
Born Sept. 1, 1898, Coffey played semipro baseball in Akron, earned a doctorate in education from New York University, taught in high school and college and raised a family.
A baseball connection, to boot!

More than 4.7 million Americans joined the military from 1917-1918. Coffey never saw combat because he was still in basic training when the war ended.

At Ease now, Private Coffey. Your service to our country is now over. You will never be forgotten.

1 comment:

Red S Tater said...

Thank God for great men like this.
May he rest in peace and glory.

My grandfather (deceased) who fought in WWI... also was 'fortunate' enough to have fought in WWII along with my dad!