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    RIP : Jud Wagner : the last WWI Marine


    Smith Center WWI vet dies

    Wagner oldest living WWI vet with overseas experience

    SMITH CENTER -- J.S. Wagner remembers his father, Albert "Jud" Wagner, as a strong man who liked farming and raising livestock in Smith County.

    Beyond those images, Jud Wagner impressed his first of four children with stories of being a United States Marine.

    Honored in October as the oldest living former Marine and the oldest living World War I veteran with overseas experience, Jud Wagner died Saturday at the Smith County Long Term Care, Smith Center. He was 107.

    Jud Wagner's children grew up hearing their father's tales of serving his country in France and Germany, and "Every service man talks about boot camp," J.S. Wagner said.

    Jud was one of four boys from Smith Center who enlisted in the service during the war -- two others in the Navy and one in the Army. Jud was 17 and needed permission from his parents, J.S. Wagner said.

    Jud served in the Marines in 1918 and 1919. All four of the Smith County military men made it home from the war.

    The war stories were "the reason I became a Marine. They take care of one another. They're a proud outfit," Wagner, 84, Kensington, said Monday.

    J.S. Wagner fought in World War II and in Korea. His younger brother, Robert Wagner, Phoenix, was a Marine in mid- to late 1950s.

    At that Oct. 13 ceremony to honor Wagner, 30 miles of U.S. Highway 36 through Smith County were dedicated as World War I Veterans Highway. Another former Marine, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., was a surprise visitor at the ceremony.

    Smith County was chosen for the honor, because it was Wagner's home county. As of July, he was one of only 17 WWI vets still alive in the U.S.

    These guys are legends

    Jud was the eldest of a fraternity transcends the ages, said Jack Gallagher, 74, Salina, who served 20 years in the Marines. While he never met Jud Wagner, Gallagher said he read about the oldest Marine.

    "These guys in my mind are legends," Gallagher said.

    A Marine detachment from Wichita will provide a military graveside service for Jud Wagner following his funeral at 1:30 p.m Wednesday at the Simmons-Olliff-Boeve Chapel in Smith Center.

    Smith County Long Term Care supervisor Jessica Hawkins' favorite memory of Jud Wagner has nothing to do with him being a Marine.

    "He gave the best hugs," she said.

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    Belated thanks for your service sir, and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
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    Louisville V.A still has a WWI vet living there. Semper FI brother RIP
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