Remembering One Of U.K.'s Last World War I Vets

A crowd turned out in Brighton, England, Thursday to remember World War I Veteran Henry Allingham. At 113 years, Allingham was Britain's oldest man when he died earlier this month. Allingham's funeral coincides with the end of an era.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Henry Allingham was the world's oldest man when he died this month. He was 113. And crowds turned out for his funeral today in Brighton, England.

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SIEGEL: It wasn't so much Allingham's age they were honoring, as his youth: His service with the Royal Naval Air Service in World War I. And they were marking the end of an era. This month, the last two World War I vets in Britain died. First, Allingham, and then 111-year-old Harry Patch. Allingham's funeral today was a reminder of the valor of a generation that went to war in the hope of ending all wars. Vice Admiral Adrian Johns of the Royal Navy said this about him.

Vice Admiral ADRIAN JOHNS (Royal Navy): He blew the dust off the history books for us. He breathed life into our heritage. And he reminded us of our roots of those who had gone before and those who had made the ultimate sacrifice.

SIEGEL: Some of Henry Allingham's decedents were also at the funeral today. David Gray, who lives in Empire, Michigan, recalled his grandfather's humble and playful spirit.

Mr. DAVID GRAY: While I was waiting at the gate at the Miami Airport for my grandfather to arrive from London for a family vacation in the Caribbean, the plane emptied and the wheelchair handler entered to get Henry. A few moments later, when they emerged from the plane, it was 93-year-old Henry pushing the wheelchair…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GRAY: …and the airline employee enjoying the ride.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GRAY: That was classic Henry.

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SIEGEL: Henry Allingham received full military honors and a flyover of replica World War I airplanes.

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SIEGEL: Harry Patch's funeral takes place next week.

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(Soundbite of song, "On Patrol in No Man's Land")

Mr. NOBLE SISSLE (Musician): (Singing) What's the time? Nine? Fall in line. All right, boys, now take it slow. Are you ready? Steady. Very good, Eddie. Over the top, let's go. Quiet…

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