from the Pittsburg Kansas Morning Sun!

It's official!

Frontenac man, 104, recognized as state's oldest living man

By Nikki Patrick | The Morning Sun

It's official — Frank Bozick, 104, is the oldest living veteran in the state of Kansas. He was recognized Thursday during the annual Frontenac USD 249 Veterans Day program.

There had been some controversy about the state's oldest living veteran since Sept. 28, when KOAM TV aired a segment honoring Harry Whistler, Independence, as holding that title.

Bozick is an active member of Frontenac American Legion Post 43, and post officials immediately set about correcting this error. Duane "Buzz" Hill, post commander, believes the misinformation may have originated from a Coffeyville Journal story which stated that Whistler is the oldest living member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas.

"It took us 2 1/2 months to get it all straightened out," said Duke Locke, post sergeant at arms. Finally, the historian at American Legion National Headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind., sent a letter confirming that Bozick, born is indeed the oldest living military veteran in Kansas.

He was drafted, at the age of 38, to fight in World War II. "I was so much older than the other men in my unit that they called me Pops," he said in an earlier interview. "I served three years in the U.S. Army in tank repair. We landed on the beaches at Normandy seven days after D-Day. War is a funny thing — you battle for a while, then you just sit there."

During the Thursday program, Bozick was honored with greetings from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. "It is my honor and pleasure as governor of the State of Kansas to thank you for your service to our nation and congratulate you on your impressive title as the ‘oldest veteran in Kansas'!" she wrote. "You have the thanks of the entire State of Kansas for your lifelong dedication to protecting our nation."

The letter was read by Capt. Drew Polen, commander of the 772nd Mobility Augmentation Company, National Guard. He spoke briefly with Bozick and the other veterans present before the program. "There are veterans here from every conflict since World War II," Polen said. "It's awesome."

U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda also sent a letter, read by Adam Stolte, her district representative. She noted that there are 235,000 veterans living in Kansas "and the oldest is Mr. Frank Bozick, who will soon celebrate his 105th birthday." Boyda sent a special gift for Bozick — a flag that flew over the United States Capitol on May 4, 2007. He also received a certificate of recognition from the VFW.

Jim Gadwood expressed thanks on behalf of Bozick and the entire family. "Always remember organizations like the VFW and the American Legion," he said. "Without them, and the support of educational institutions like Frontenac USD 249, our veterans would soon be forgotten."

All veterans present were introduced, and Frontenac High School students sang several selections. Kindergarten students presented the veterans with handmade cards.

"This is the most wonderful day of my life," Bozick said after the program. "It pays to live a long time. Just think of all the good people in this little town of Frontenac — I love every one of them."