gperkins.jpgGeorge Dewey Perkins, the oldest Marine in the United States, died on Feb. 9 of natural causes. He was 106.
Born March 10, 1898 in Iola, Kan., Perkins served with the U.S. Marine Corps from 1917 to 1919. Just before getting shipped off to France, Perkins and other members of his unit came down with the Spanish flu, an illness that killed somewhere between 20 and 40 million people worldwide in a single year.
An estimated 43,000 servicemen mobilized to fight in World War I died of influenza. Perkins credited his sergeant, an American Indian, with saving his life. Instead of allowing the unit’s doctors to care for the troops, the sergeant treated them with tribal medications.
After the war ended, Perkins moved to Shreveport, La., to work in the oil fields. In 1921, he cracked his skull against a heavy pipe. Although other medical personnel gave Perkins up for dead, one nurse stayed by his side and managed to revive him. That nurse later became his wife. The couple was married for 65 years, until Miriam’s death in 1986.
Perkins remained active until a week ago. He honored currently deployed Marines last May and took part in Veterans’ Day ceremonies in November. Perkins will be buried in Centuries Memorial Park Cemetery in Shreveport with full military and Masonic honors.