On The 77th Anniversary Of VJ Day – Let’s Remember Those Who Sacrificed For Us
It has been 77 years since the end of World War II, marking the day the Japanese surrendered to the United States.
On September 2nd, 1945, on the deck of the USS Missouri, the Empire of Japan formally signed their unconditional surrender to America and allied forces – ending World War II in the Pacific and ending the war in general.
It was a bloody, nearly five years that had taken millions of lives and ravaged most of East Asia, and it all came to end as Douglas MacArthur watched the Japanese sign the “instrument of surrender.”
It has been 77 years since, and I want to take a look back at those who fought on behalf of freedom in World War II.
How Many World War II Veterans Are Left?
According to the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, there are approximately 240,000 World War II veterans left alive in the United States, with an average of 245 dying each day. Most of these men and women are in their 90s, so time is running out for many.
“I’m alive because of Pratt & Whitney.” A 96-year-old World War II veteran shares how the Wasp engine saved his life. 😲Watch the full story at https://t.co/6COvLHAcSm.#VeteransDay #WWII #militaryaviation #avgeek pic.twitter.com/eJX28ErQcz
— Pratt & Whitney (@prattandwhitney) November 11, 2018
Last Surviving Veterans
Among the notable World War II veterans who were the last surviving participants in divisions or major events include:
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Bud Anderson, who is America’s last surviving triple ace. A triple ace indicates he shot down at least 15 confirmed aircraft. He was also the highest ace who flew the P-51 Mustang.
Anderson served 30 years in the Army and Air Force, flying in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He logged flights in 100 unique aircraft and flew over 7,000 hours.
His Mustang was nicknamed Old Crow.
— Jocko Willink (@jockowillink) August 26, 2022
Marine Chester Nez was the last surviving Navajo Codetalker, passing away in 2014 at the age of 93.
Today is Navajo Code Talkers Day. Pictured is U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Chester Nez as he receives an American flag at Code Talker Hall on April 4, 2014. The last original Navajo code talker, Mr. Nez passed away 2 months later on June 4, 2014. #SemperFi pic.twitter.com/QpSoORD4pQ
— VoteVets (@votevets) August 14, 2018
In 2014, when I was with another paper I was given the opportunity to speak to the last of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers, Chester Nez, over the phone. He was hard at hearing, so his son had to assist. This interview has always stuck with me. I wish I had a copy to share. pic.twitter.com/BKPagMjtMb
— Arlyssa D. Becenti (@ABecenti) August 14, 2020
Henry Parham, who died in 2014 at the age of 99, was the last surviving African-American veteran of the Normandy Invasion. In 2013, he was awarded the Legion of Honor by France.
He was up to his neck in water as bullets rained down at Omaha Beach.
With his Black brothers, he floated balloons to protect the infantry from the German air assault. He stayed there for 68 days to protect subsequent waves.
Henry Parham died on July 4th.
Rest easy, brother. pic.twitter.com/vf2yU2khBG
— Canadian Forces in 🇺🇸 (@CAFinUS) July 13, 2021
Louis Graziano is the last surviving witness of the German surrender at the end of World War II. He celebrated his 99th birthday this past February.
World exclusive! Managed top track down the LAST LIVING eyewitness to German surrender in WWII in Reims 75 years ago today, 97-year-old Louis Graziano. He escorted Jodl to Eisenhower’s room. “Ike wouldn’t shake the German’s hand…We celebrated with champagne.”#WW2 #VEDAY pic.twitter.com/3AoJFqViaC
— alex kershaw (@kershaw_alex) May 7, 2020
Share your thoughts and memories of our great veterans in the comments below.