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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    Default One of the Last World War I Veterans Dies at 109

    NORTH BALTIMORE, Ohio The last World War I veteran in Ohio, and one of only three known remaining U.S. veterans of the conflict, has died.



    J. Russell Coffey was the last WWI vet in the state, according to the Veterans Affairs Department. He died Thursday at the age of 109, said the Smith-Crates Funeral Home in North Baltimore, about 35 miles south of Toledo.

    The funeral home did not say where Coffey died or the cause of death. He had been living in the Blakely Care Center, a nursing home.

    Coffey, born Sept. 1, 1898, did not see action overseas. He 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.

    Coffey played semipro baseball, earned a doctorate in education from New York University, taught high school and college and raised a family.

    He drove his car until he was 104 and lived on his own until three years ago, according to the funeral home.

    The other known surviving American soldiers are Frank Buckles, 106, of Charles Town, W.Va., and Harry Landis, of Sun City Center, Fla., according to the Veterans Affairs Department.
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  2. #2
    Atomic Punk bsbll4's Avatar
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    RIP

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    Sounds like he had a full life with everything he did. Living past 100 is a rare thing.

    RIP and thank you.
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  4. #4
    Sinner's Swing!
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    I had a Russian neighbor who fought for the Tzar's army in WW1 and against the Bolsheviks in the 1918 revolution. He had to flee Russia and came to America in 1920. He had some amazing stories to tell. He died about 15 years ago.

    The sad part about this story is that we are unavoidably losing the living connection to such important events in human history. It won't be long before the WW2 vets are all gone. An inevitable reality but a sad one if only because people who lived through such times know of things that the following generations couldn't even imagine.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by looper_guy View Post
    The sad part about this story is that we are unavoidably losing the living connection to such important events in human history. It won't be long before the WW2 vets are all gone. An inevitable reality but a sad one if only because people who lived through such times know of things that the following generations couldn't even imagine.
    so true
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  6. #6
    Atomic Punk
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    well we have no living connection to the Revolutionary war either...and to be true, I'm not sure if having a "living connection" really means anything to most people...other than seeing these brave men paraded around on holidays and asked to stand and be recognized at concerts in Branson Missouri. I have a very sacred spot in my heart for vets...and I'm as anti war as it gets...but I'm also a realist. The reality in this case is that war happens and war is nasty and a lot of men and more and more women are marching off to it face it, without regard for whether or not they personally believe in the war itself. They're out there doing their job and what they experience, what they carry with them the rest of their lives, can not be underestimated or discounted. War veterans are a special special group of people who deserve much more than what they get and it's a shame that those serving and those that served get used as political cliches and, more often than not, used for photo ops and cheap pops by people trying to get elected and then forgotten and ignored when they really need something. And in no way am I just talking about Iraq...I'm talking about war in general...because the troubles and challenges these people face are universal.

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    How can you be a WWI vet when you didn't see any action or weren't serving in some other capacity in-country? If he enlisted a month before the cease fire, he probably wasn't even out of basic before the war was over. Maybe they meant WWI era.
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  8. #8
    Damage your reputation seenbad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by broken9500 View Post
    well we have no living connection to the Revolutionary war either...and to be true, I'm not sure if having a "living connection" really means anything to most people..
    It does to me.
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    Damage your reputation seenbad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VH_VAREB View Post
    How can you be a WWI vet when you didn't see any action or weren't serving in some other capacity in-country? If he enlisted a month before the cease fire, he probably wasn't even out of basic before the war was over. Maybe they meant WWI era.
    If you're even enlisted during time of war, your classification is veteran.
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    Quote Originally Posted by seenbad View Post
    If you're even enlisted during time of war, your classification is veteran.
    I did not know that. Are "Combat Veterans" and "Veterans" classified differently. Seems a little unfair to pin the same title on a guy serving stateside during WWI (or any war for that matter) as one serving in one of those hell hole WWI trenches.
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  11. #11
    Sinner's Swing! InTheBeginning's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by looper_guy View Post
    I had a Russian neighbor who fought for the Tzar's army in WW1... He had some amazing stories to tell. He died about 15 years ago....

    The sad part about this story is that we are unavoidably losing the living connection to such important events in human history.
    As long as you hold onto those stories and pass them on, we should be alright. My grandfather died before I was born, but he was in the Army Air Corps and flew Sopwith Camels in the European Theatre of WWI. I have acquired his logbook and some other stuff via my Dad and uncle. I plan to pass it onto my son when he's old enough.

    I also have my great-great-grandfather's powderhorn and musket from the Civil War! One of my distant cousins has a bullet that was removed from the same ancestor's leg at Gettysburg. It traveled through his left testicle and lodged in his leg.

    I'm the only male in line with the family name who has a son, so he is going to get all of the stories and artifacts.
    A little more volume in the headphones please.

  12. #12
    Damage your reputation seenbad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VH_VAREB View Post
    I did not know that. Are "Combat Veterans" and "Veterans" classified differently. Seems a little unfair to pin the same title on a guy serving stateside during WWI (or any war for that matter) as one serving in one of those hell hole WWI trenches.
    No difference in classification. You're either in during time of war, or you're not. Now, that's not to say that there aren't certain medals for specific campaigns but still, if your unit/squadron/whatever is associated with a specific campaign, you get the medal no matter where you are in relation to your unit. If you're say, on medical leave but the unit you're attached to gets honored with an award, you still share in it.

    I have a liberation of Kuwait medal. I didn't actually liberate Kuwait myself, but I was over there. Anybody that was on board my ship between certain periods of time got it.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by InTheBeginning View Post
    ....I also have my great-great-grandfather's powderhorn and musket from the Civil War! One of my distant cousins has a bullet that was removed from the same ancestor's leg at Gettysburg. It traveled through his left testicle and lodged in his leg.....
    Now that's an heir-loom. In seriousness, that is some cool stuff to have, especially the powderhorn and musket.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by broken9500 View Post
    well we have no living connection to the Revolutionary war either...and to be true, I'm not sure if having a "living connection" really means anything to most people...other than seeing these brave men paraded around on holidays and asked to stand and be recognized at concerts in Branson Missouri. I have a very sacred spot in my heart for vets...and I'm as anti war as it gets...but I'm also a realist. The reality in this case is that war happens and war is nasty and a lot of men and more and more women are marching off to it face it, without regard for whether or not they personally believe in the war itself. They're out there doing their job and what they experience, what they carry with them the rest of their lives, can not be underestimated or discounted. War veterans are a special special group of people who deserve much more than what they get and it's a shame that those serving and those that served get used as political cliches and, more often than not, used for photo ops and cheap pops by people trying to get elected and then forgotten and ignored when they really need something. And in no way am I just talking about Iraq...I'm talking about war in general...because the troubles and challenges these people face are universal.
    Your right in that most people don't have an appreciation for the "living connection" but, based on my experience with the aforementioned neighbor as well as family who were WWII vets from both the American and Japanese side, there is value in those connections in that, if one takes the time to listen to them, valuable insights on how common folks react to extraordinary situations can be gained. I'll never know what its like to be fighting the Communist/Socialist factions in the closing days of Tzarist Russia or flying a B17 over Germany on a bombing raid in WW2, but my connections with those who did has been enriching if only because I got the "non-Hollywoodized" take on those moments. In some ways, these encounters have informed my opinion on matters such as war and politics. No way to avoid the passing of those who lived through such events but there is gradual change in perception of those events as the participants age and pass. In my life, I've noted a shift in public perception regarding WW2. When I was a kid, WW2 was still the stuff of glorified war movies. I remember having a book from Time/Life about the war and it was very "clinical" in its content. More recently, however, there has been more "humanized" accounts in books, TV, etc. Ken Burns touched on it in interviews when he was promoting "The War". As those who fought that war age, the more they are opening up about stories that only a few shared, likely because they know their time is nearing the end. There are other factors that have attributed to the shift in perception but the fact that those who lived through it are nearing their end must be a significant factor. Hence the value of having the living connection because once they are gone, it is only whats been documented that will inform perception going forward.

  15. #15
    Atomic Punk
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    Quote Originally Posted by looper_guy View Post
    An inevitable reality but a sad one if only because people who lived through such times know of things that the following generations couldn't even imagine.
    or appreciate...
    Last edited by voivod; 12.21.07 at 06:19 PM.
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