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Oldest Combat-Wounded World War I Veteran Dies

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January 9, 2004

The man who is thought to be the last American soldier wounded in combat in World War I has died. Alfred Pugh was 108 when he died in St. Petersburg, Fla., on January 9, just 10 days short of his 109th birthday.

He was born in 1895 in Everett, Mass. He had joined the Army in 1917. He spoke French and was an interpreter until seeing combat action during a series of battles in the Argonne Forest. It was in one of those battles that he inhaled mustard gas. He passed out and had laryngitis since that time.

The war ended not long after; and he returned to the U.S., where he worked as a railroad telegraph operator and then a mail carrier. He moved to Florida in 1971.

In 1999, he was named chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honor, a prestigious medal bestowed by the French government.

One of fewer than 1,000 remaining American WWI veterans, Pugh was also one of 10 veterans profiled in the new book The Price of Their Blood.

An avid organ player, Pugh played well into his 100s.

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