My Uncle died last year and he was the last WWII vet I personally knew. When I was a boy, every male adult that wasn't a grandfather was a WWII vet, practically every child I knew had a Dad who was a quiet hero.
I knew a tank killer in a tank destroyer in Patton's 3d Army, a Marine in the 1st Divison who knocked the Japanese back in the Pacific, a Bronze Star recipient who fought off Japanese kamikaze planes for a full day to both save his ship and earn his commendation, an officer who helped roust the Japanese from the Philippines, a pilot who bombed the Nazis in North Africa, a paratrooper who dropped in on Normandy on D-Day, etc.
But all of these heroes eventually died and I no longer personally knew a single WWII vet, once so common. Until yesterday.
On a trip this weekend to meet a childhood friend, I met his father-in-law, a Hellcat pilot on an escort Jeep Carrier in the Pacific. I so appreciated speaking with Ray about his service covering troop landings in the war against Japan and I am gratified that now I still know a WWII veteran.