Alfred R. Pugh, the last known combat-wounded U.S. veteran of World War I, died on Jan. 7 from pneumonia. He was 108.
The Everett, Mass., native was born in 1895. He joined the Army in 1917 and served in France as an interpreter with the 77th Infantry Division. During the 1918 Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which was the final bloody battle of World War I, Pugh’s lungs were seared by mustard gas. The injury knocked him unconscious, and later gave him a chronic case of laryngitis.
After the war, Pugh worked as a railroad telegraph operator and mailman and created the first Boy Scout troop in Maine. He was one of 10 veterans profiled in the book, “The Price of Their Blood: Profiles in Spirit,” by Daniel Paisner, Lois Pope and Jesse Brown. In 1999, Pugh was named chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honor for his service to the Republic of France.
When asked, Pugh often said that the key to a long life was to “keep breathing.”