Richard Overton, who is believed to be the oldest living World War II veteran, is acknowledged by U.S. President Barack Obama during a ceremony to honor veterans at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. Stars and Stripes.
Oldest US vets to mark attack on Pearl Harbor
The two oldest veterans in America — a pair of 107-year-olds who fought in the Pacific theater 70 years ago — will meet up to mark the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and to trade stories.
It’s a heartwarming photo op, but also a sign of the nation’s fading ties to the Greatest Generation and a warning to the Sept. 11 generation that the mantra of “never forget” grows more difficult as the years pass.
The veterans — Richard Overton and Elmer Hill — weren’t at the attack in Hawaii, but passed through the ruined Navy base later on their way to the fight. They survived kamikaze planes and sluggish, island-clearing combat to return home and build new lives in separate parts of Texas.
They’ve never met, but are connected through their shared — and fading — military experiences.
Each man said he doesn’t have anything specific he wants to share with the other.
Each is just happy to meet a fellow World War II veteran.
“I kept in touch with a lot of the guys I served with after we came home,” Overton said. “But they’re all gone now.”
No large-scale, national memorials are planned to mark Saturday’s 72nd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Park service officials at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center are expecting a small increase in crowds for the date. No major military ceremonies are scheduled for the occasion.
In 2011, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association disbanded after marking the 70th anniversary of the attack with a Hawaii reunion.
Originally published by Stars and Stripes. All rights reserved.
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