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 Walter B Pleate

Walter B Pleate

Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 5 Dec 1985 (aged 109)
Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, USA
Burial Annville, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, USA
Plot 11, 138
Memorial ID 2580954 · View Source
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**Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA) - December 6, 1985
Deceased Name: WALTER PLEATE, 109
Walter Pleate, at 109 the oldest American veteran, died yesterday at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Lebanon, Pa.

Doctors said bronchial pneumonia was the cause of death. "He just slipped away in his sleep," said R.W. Mengel, hospital spokesman.

Veterans Administration records show that Mr. Pleate was born on Oct. 10, 1876, in the Bridesburg section of Philadelphia. He enlisted in the Army on Feb. 24, 1899, at age 22.

About 392,000 Americans - all volunteers - fought in the Spanish-American War, which was sparked by the April 15, 1898 sinking of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor. The war ended when, on Dec. 10, Spain ceded the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam to the United States and granted independence to Cuba.

Even so, fighting continued in the form of pacification campaigns in Cuba and Puerto Rico and battles with guerrillas during the Philippine Insurrection. According to official definition, the Spanish-American War did not end until July 4, 1902. A number of things, including the expedition into China to put down the Boxer Rebellion, are counted for those qualifying for veterans' benefits as part of the war.

Pvt. Pleate was assigned to Company 1 of the Second Infantry Division. He was with the division when it went into the Philippines. With a good ear for languages, he picked up enough Tagalog, a language spoken by Filipinos. He acted as unit interpreter.

He and his fellow volunteers, who were paid $15 a month for combat duty, were eventually reassigned to China. They were sent there to protect American interests and nationals from the Boxers, a secret society in northern China attempting to rid the country of Western culture.

He was discharged on Feb. 3, 1902, five months before Congress officially declared an end to the Spanish-American War.

The old soldier spent the latter half of his life in hospitals. He entered the Veterans Hospital in Coatesville in 1937 and remained there for 20 years.

From 1957 to 1961, he was in the VA center at Murfreesboro, Tenn. Then he returned to Coatesville. His last move was to Lebanon in 1966.

He became the nation's oldest military veteran on Oct. 30, 1984, when Harry Chaloner died at Bay Pines VA Medical Center in St. Petersburg, Fla., at the age of 110.

With Mr. Pleate's death, the oldest veteran is Christian F. Steinle, who is in West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. He was 107 on May 3.

Mr. Pleate left no survivors. He will be buried Monday at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.
additional information courtesy of RJensen in the forums.




  • Maintained by: ditdit
  • Originally Created by: US Veterans Affairs Office
  • Added: 3 Mar 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2580954
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Walter B Pleate (10 Oct 1876–5 Dec 1985), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2580954, citing Indiantown Gap National Cemetery, Annville, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by ditdit (contributor 47012745) .