June 6, 2014

On D-Day anniversary, only 1 million World War II veterans still alive

U.S. WW II veteran Arden C. Earll, right, from Erie, Pennsylvania, landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, with the 116th infantry regiment, salutes along with other WW II veterans as part of the commemoration of the 70th D-Day anniversary, Credit: AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere
U.S. WW II veteran Arden C. Earll, right, from Erie, Pennsylvania, who landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, with the 116th infantry regiment, salutes along with other WWII veterans as part of the commemoration of the 70th D-Day anniversary. Credit: AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere

FT_14.06.05_D-Day-anniversaryPresident Obama marks the 70th anniversary of the pivotal invasion of Europe at a ceremony in Normandy, France, today to pay tribute to the 16 million Americans who served in World War II. The moment is a particularly special one, given the dwindling ranks of the “greatest generation” whose members fought in that costly battle.

Just over one million World War II veterans survive today, according to Veterans Administration figures collected by The National WWII Museum.

When Ronald Reagan made his presidential pilgrimage to the battle site of Pointe du Hoc in 1984 on the invasion’s 40th anniversary, paying tribute to the American Ranger team that took heavy casualties capturing a German-occupied cliff, there were still 10.7 million World War II veterans alive.

By the next decennial anniversary, the VA estimates that their numbers will be down to 81,117.

Topics: Military and Veterans, Wars and International Conflicts

  1. Photo of Bruce Drake

    is a senior editor at Pew Research Center.

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30 Comments

  1. John Koveleskie2 weeks ago

    If you are fortunate enough to know a world war 2 veteran, consider yourself very lucky. They are the most amazing generation this world will ever know. What they did should never, ever, be forgotten. It’s hard for us to imagine, but, they fought to save the entire world. That speaks volumes! Many were never even out of there homes towns and then they find themselves in places they never heard of. Unbelievable! It’s so very hard to put into words what they did for us without becoming so overwelmed with emotion. I always wondered why my parents and there friends seemed so much more mature then the following generations. Now I know why. To live through the Great Depression and then save the world must have been an unbelievable task. But, they did. Please thank all those of that generation while you can. Soon it will be to late. Not just the soldiers, but the many women and civilians who helped to over come those great odds. I can only wish to be a small percentage a person as they were. God bless all of them. I will never forget and neither should all of you.

    Reply
  2. Carole Chase Draughan1 month ago

    My Dad is 93. He was just a teen when he enlisted in the Army in 1940. He was a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne, 505, Baker Company. He was dropped behind enemy lines in the Normandy Invasion, Operation Overlord, Market Garden, to name a few. To this day, bless his heart, he has “nightmares” of this brutal combat. He cries about the men he had to kill and still feels the terrible guilt of this. He is now in a facility for dementia patients, yet this he can not forget. I truly wish that our government would have been able to rehab these poor Heroes of WWII. Some still suffer in silence. He tells me that he does not want to be considered a hero because the true heroes did not return from that war. God Bless my Dad and others that endure these horrific battles.

    Reply
  3. Manfred Straubinger1 month ago

    search for harvey s…. i lost his familiename, but he servet in germany -fürstenfeldbruck in the airforce he whos in the rang of sergant, maybee my dad

    Reply
  4. Peter Brewer2 months ago

    I suspect that my father, Clifford Brewer, surgeon in the British army in June 1944 in Normandy, could be the oldest surviving D Day veteran . He is 102 years old and lives in Hampshire, England.
    Regards
    Peter Brewer, one of his sons.

    Reply
    1. Paul Tolley4 weeks ago

      Did your father serve in any other areas? My Granddad was with 1st airborne 10th Battalion and wounded outside of Arnhem. Operated on by British field Surgeon, saved his leg.

      Reply
  5. Jane Coffin2 months ago

    My dear Dad passed away 5 yrs ago. He was a proud WW2 vet who like so many of his friends left college to enlist (he was in the Army). While fighting on the front line in France, he was captured by the Germans on Thanksgiving Day, 1944. Upon hearing the news that their son was MIA, my Dad’s father’s hair turned completely white within a 10 day period. My Dad was located as a POW in Czechoslavacia. He remained in prison camp until May 8, 1945, when on that morning all of the German guards had abandoned the camp & the gates were open. He remained active all of his life in veterans and POW organizations. I am proud of all WW2 veterans, they were all so young and brave. We are truly free in this country because they were all willing to risk their lives. My Dad was my mentor and hero, I think of him everyday and miss him so much. If you have the opportunity, talk and listen to a WW2 vet’s story.

    Reply
  6. Don Yarber3 months ago

    I have two uncles, Henry Clay Burns, Jr. (age 95) and Fred Burns (age 96) who are survivors of D-Day.

    How old is the oldest D-Day veteran?

    Reply
  7. Alaina4 months ago

    I am so proud of my grandfather because he is in the world war 2

    Reply
  8. Herbertificus4 months ago

    I’ll say this . . . All decent, thoughtful Americans are very grateful for what the WWII generation in general and veterans in particular did for us and the entire world.

    But the fact is that far too many “Americans” today do not appreciate the many, many sacrifices that The Greatest Generation and our other forefathers made in fighting back the forces of evil and securing/preserving our freedom. Far too many “Americans” today are totally unworthy of the sacrifices made on their behalf and they don’t deserve the freedoms our fighting men purchased for them with life and limb. It makes me angry to see all of those sacrifices trampled on by people who don’t understand or value FREEDOM at all. These “Americans” are slowly turning our gov’t into the same overreaching, all-controlling, authoritarian type of gov’t that or vets fought against in both World Wars.

    I put it to you: do you not agree that our expressions of appreciation for our vets necessarily must be accompanied by our best efforts to protect the freedoms they fought for and to repudiate anyone who would slowly give away our freedoms in the hope of gaining a free ride through life at the expense of his fellow citizen?

    Reply
    1. Mitchell Spanheimer1 month ago

      I agree, America isn’t free any more and Obama is acting like a Crappy Dictator…
      The founding fathers wanted little to no government intervention, and to be truly free most of all. In some aspects they would be proud of the country they created, but in most cases, they would feel like we are screwing up big time.

      Reply
  9. larry5 months ago

    I been reading warhorse and I was wondering if there were any survived after ww1,but there wasn’t any so I looked up ww2 and I found this site.I salute to the people that have pass and are still alive.

    Reply
  10. Alex Virgin Ross5 months ago

    I’ve in search for people who had survived the goriest WW-II, and finally I’ve found this site. I salute to all veterans of WW-II. You sacrificed your everything for us to make this world a peaceful place to live. We’ve no such words to give you, but I want to say thanks to you all who fought for our safe futures. My great grand father fought both WWs but now he’s not with us. I wish he was here now and I just can thank him. God! I do not have such words to thank all those legends. I just do not have enough resources to go round the world and talk to all those who are still alive (WW-II survivors). Here, I just want to request you all if you have your dad, grand pa, uncle, or whatever your neighbor, who is veteran of WW-II, please if you could bring their life (at war) in record. We have just few left, and I wish it from te core of my heart that if we could save their tails for our generstions, because they are the brightest star of or history. Our next generations should know the peaceful world we are living in is the benevolence of the God in the answer of the sacrifices our parents had made. Who wants to bring the true story of the legend to our history book? I love you all and thanks for what you did for us and for this world. I am here: viralexgin@gmail.com! Can we build it?

    Reply
  11. Greg6 months ago

    God bless all World War II veterans. Truly they deserve our greatest admiration and gratitude. I still miss my dad who passed away in ’95; he never liked to talk about the horrors he witnessed when battling the Nazis in Algiers.

    Reply
  12. Jasmes Sexton6 months ago

    My dad is one of the remaining. He also served 3 tours in Korea in the Special Forces. He received a Silver Star, Bronze Star, a Purple Heart to name a few. He is 85 years old. I know if you do the math it is hard to believe. But he ran away from home when he was 14, lied about his age and signed up. He was fighting in Germany when he was 15 years old. He us a tough old bird! I also had an Uncle at Pearl when it was bombed. He survived but has since passed (RIP) AND I had an Uncle on Iwo Jima when they raised the flag. He also survived but has since passed (RIP).

    Reply
    1. Kevin fox4 months ago

      Wow amazing. What did he do in the war?

      Reply
  13. Ginger Ewing6 months ago

    My father-in law turned 90 in September. He is a WW2 vet that served on the USS Massachutes for 4 years. He retired from the FDA as a meat inspector. So glad to say he is still with us today.

    Reply
  14. Diana M. Childers7 months ago

    A little trivia.

    Reply
  15. K King8 months ago

    So proud of my 90 year old Dad who fought with Patton in Europe, was in the Battle of the Bulge, D Day + and several more. He, like so many, returned with scars but used the GI bill to get his education, marry the girl waiting for him, educate their children and run his business. They were a special breed of Americans and felt it was a natural to be defending their country. Never discussing the horrors of war, but making lifetime friends during it. We are all so proud of him and the other million who helped us continue to live in a free society. Bless the soldiers who continue in that incredible tradition. THANK YOU!

    Reply
    1. pamfox1 month ago

      my dad fought under patten also ,d day battle buldge and others he was in the timberwolves104 division,he passed ay1999

      Reply
    2. pamfox1 month ago

      they could have know each other im pround also of my dad .they fought in same battles ,did you ever hear of timberwolves,104 unit

      Reply
    3. John Koveleskie2 weeks ago

      God bless him. They are true American heroes! They will never be forgotten!

      Reply
  16. Gilian Donders, The Netherlands8 months ago

    God bless all of you!

    Our heroes, our WWII vets are still welcome, we still love to meet all of you again, we want to give you what you deserve, that’s what you did for us 70years ago, you give us back our freedom.

    Those who are still close to us, the Dutch people, let me know please via gilian9@hotmail.com

    Thank you, thank you, thank you……..forever

    Reply
  17. Fred Stapf8 months ago

    One million of us left GOD please bless us all

    Reply
  18. Alan Abel9 months ago

    I am a WWII veteran with service on Okinawa. At 90+ years of age, I’m in the 5th month of an appeal to the VA for additional compensation. It feels like a treadmill to oblivion!!!

    Reply
    1. Kylie9 months ago

      My great grandpa is one of the world war 2 vets

      Reply
      1. cmccall8 months ago

        How wonderful you have someone to tell his stories, I only wish I had that. What a treasure, god bless him and your family

        Reply
  19. Jeannette Schupbach10 months ago

    My husband Vernon Alden Schupbach is still living. I do not find his name on any ww2 survivers list.He is 95 years old. He served in the US Navy 1940-1945 on USS Lawrence. We have his Honerable discharge papers. Why? Shouldn’t all survivers be recognized?

    Reply
  20. Linda11 months ago

    My dad, a WWII veteran and silver star recipient is still with us today. March 2014 he turned 90 years old. Thank you dad!

    Reply
    1. cmccall8 months ago

      god bless him and your family

      Reply
  21. John11 months ago

    I’m so humbled by our vets who have served. I feel so hollow in my life that I haven’t given such a sacrifice. I have no defense or excuse to say why I haven’t other than I’d die for the day it should ever happen. I hope whoever reads this knows I’d die for my country over and over again

    Reply