Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates will host the unveiling of portraits of World War I veterans by photographer David DeJonge in a ceremony Thursday, March 6 at 12:45 p.m. EST in the Pentagon Auditorium, Room BH 650.
DeJonge is based in Grand Rapids, Mich. He began documenting veterans in 1996 and in 2006 he began a project to photograph America’s last surviving veterans of World War I. DeJonge partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs and located and photographed the last known surviving WWI veterans. He has donated his WWI portrait collection to the Pentagon.
Within weeks of their portrait sessions five of the nine WWI Veterans died. They ranged in age from 105-110 years and served in the Army and Navy. Today, there are only two known surviving WWI veterans:
John Babcock of Spokane, Wash., served for Canada in WWI and later in the U.S. Army in the 1940’s. He became an American citizen in 1946.
Frank Woodruff Buckles, who resides in Charles Town, W. Va., and joined the U.S. Army at age 15, where he served in England during WWI as an ambulance driver. He later served during WWII and was held as a prisoner of war at Los Banos, Philippines.
Buckles, 107, will be the guest of honor.
Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the North Parking Entrance only. Plan to arrive no later than 45 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification. Please call (703) 697-5131 for escort into the building.