At one time they numbered 16 million, now there are only 2.5 million left. What legacy will they leave behind them? What should the rest of us remember them by? That's what we asked some WWII veterans before the latest Austin Honor Flight to Washington DC.
They're called the greatest generation now, but right after Pearl Harbor in 194, they were boys who went on a great and terrible adventure.
"There were so many like me, away from home for the first time, never saw the ocean and they hit you with it, and my gosh...I didn't realize the world was this big," said US Navy veteran Marvin Kanter.
They all have stories of their experiences like Harold Erickson. His bomber was shot down over Germany and the gunner parachuted out.
"I was fortunate, landed in a small farm village because if it was a city, we weren't popular there because we were bombing them so the civilians would line you up and shoot you," Erickson said.
The median age of WWII vets is about 92.
"We're gonna miss the beings themselves, but their legacy will live on forever, that's why we do Honor Flight Austin, we try to capture their stories and memories and preserve that so younger generations will learn from the greatest generation," City of Austin Veterans Consultant, Allen Bergeron said.
This day they are part of a procession to their honor flight, an all-expenses paid trip to the WWII Memorial in Washington.
At Austin-Bergstrom International Airport it's a chance for some recognition for the vets from the public. But once at the memorial it's a change for the vets to recognize their comrades in arms.
"I have several names of classmates that were killed during the war. I've got vivid memories of those two who were missing," said US Navy veteran Rev. William Kreig.
In many ways it's about memories, and how those experiences are passed on. Memories like those of Harold Erickson when as a POW he was being moved through German farmland near the end of the war and how the prisoners signaled friendly aircraft.
"In our Red Cross packages we had toilet paper. So we got it and went out and made a POW sign in the dirt and the P-47 came by and saw that and came down and dipped his wings and then every day after that some plane would come by and buzz us and wave wings to let you know they knew where we were at."
Its stories like that are being preserved. For example the WWII museum in New Orleans asks to record the recollections of every veteran that comes to the museum.
Donate to Honor Flight Austin by visiting www.honorflightaustin.org.