I haven’t posted the last few days since I was in upstate New York with my family, celebrating my wife’s parents’ 50th Anniversary. We had a very nice party on Saturday and it was a terrific time.
When I came home yesterday, I opened our local Sunday paper and saw several interesting articles dealing with the last surviving veterans of World War I. Some of you might know that there are currently only 12 veterans of that war still alive today (as of the beginning of this year, there were 24, but we’ve lost half of those already). At an average age of 108 (108!), we’re sure to lose the rest of them very soon.
One particular article caught my eye – and the caption below the picture of an obviously very old man stated that this fellow was the “last surviving member of the U.S. Army Cavalry.” 106 year-old Samuel Goldberg of Rhode Island is apparently the last surviving mounted horse soldier to serve in a war. Here’s the biographical paragraph of Goldberg, from the Scripps Howard News Service:
Samuel Goldberg, 106, lives in Greenville, R.I. Immigrated at age 5 from Poland with his family. Last surviving member of the U.S. Army Cavalry. Joined the army for adventure and served at Fort Hatchita, N.M., and at forts along the U.S.-Mexican border in 1918 to defend against a possible invasion via Mexico by Germany.
Here’s a bit more from the general article, which talks about the status of surviving veterans of WWI:
These remarkable “Doughboys” are members of an increasingly fragile fraternity, relics of a world changing conflagration little remembered today. Once they stood 4.7 million strong: American farm boys, factory hands and tradesmen itchy for adventure, all called by their county to fight “the war to end all wars.”
Now, when the 88th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I arrives Saturday, there won’t be enough surviving U.S. veterans of that defining conflict to fill a platoon.
When 2006 began, an unofficial roster of known remaining American WWI vets listed only about 24 names. Eleven months later, those ranks have dwindled to 12, Scripps Howard News Service has confirmed.
With an average age of 108, it is unlikely these numbers will hold for long.
Unlikely indeed. I’m 41, and when I was a kid there were lots of WWI vets in my hometown – it seemed as if every fellow over 65 was a vet. Now, we’re losing veterans of WWII at an alarming pace as well. My father, a vet of both WWII and Korea, will be 80 this January.
Here’s to all of them, and in a special way for Samuel Goldberg, the last cavalryman to ride leather during a war. His passing will be the end of an era for this afficianado of all things cavalry.