“This is not a statistical endeavor, but uses some flow of logic. First, we know that about 73,000 American troops were involved in the D-Day invasion. Let’s assume an early- to mid-20s average age distribution for those troops. But, going with this range, and utilizing a somewhat generalized military organizational model, let’s say 75 percent were between 18-25 years of age, 25 percent representing a scatter plot of older ages for the more senior troops. D-Day was in 1944. That is 73 years ago. The minimum age for a D-Day veteran might be about 91 at this point. And this would be for a fellow that enlisted at 17, went through training, pipelined to the staging unit, and was incorporated into the D-Day assaults. This would give us a range of minimum ages...say, early to late-90s (for troops that participated at that age range of 18-25). About 18% of American males will reach their 90s. However, the number drops steeply between 90s to centenarian (low single digit percentages, sources vary). If we say 55,000 troops were in this 18-25 range in 1944, and we are trying to apply a calculation that captures this 92-late 90s age range, plus a smaller number of outliers...we might say ~10%. Or, 5,500 potential D-Day veterans that could possibly be alive today. You’d also have to factor in a rather large +/- rate. And I'm trying to be optimistic or liberal in this application. So, perhaps it is more on the minus side. This gives us, broadly speaking, a few thousand survivors in their early to mid-90s. A very small number in their late 90s. A scattering of centenarians. And a very rapid rate of passing at the present time period. The “few thousand” will drop to a few hundred in a very short time span.”

That answer by Morningstar was a pretty good one since my research hasn’t found a better one. Two years ago, then, there were optimistically several thousand D-Day veterans still alive. How about today?

Various estimates range from 350-1,000 WWII veterans dying each day. If we use Morningstar’s 2017 estimate and the estimated daily death rate, there would be no more D-Day vets alive. Since we know there at least some vets alive from recent interviews with them, the number is very small. Maybe 500 or fewer D-Day veterans are still alive on June 6, 2019, the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings, a battle that represented the beginning of the end of Hitler’s so-called 1000 year German Reich.

According to History.com, “the D-Day landings, codenamed ‘Operation Overlord’, began on June 6, 1944 when a 160,000 strong allied force landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified western coast of France. The invasion was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history.”

I had two family members involved in this historic battle to wrest control of Europe from its Nazi occupiers. The first one was my great Uncle Ray Hill. I recollect childhood stories of his US Army unit landing on Utah Beach on D-Day. I only have vague memories of Great Uncle Ray, his death occurring when I was still very young. I wish I had more information about his D-Day experiences, but his firsthand accounts are now lost to the dustbin of history.

My last living D-Day veteran relative, my father-in-law, died in December 2017 at 92 years of age. Charlie Burke was a Navy Corpsman assigned as a crewman on a Navy Landing Ship-Tank, LST-529. Charlie lived long enough (and was actually willing to talk about his experiences) that I have firsthand accounts of his fears of watching torpedoes pass just in front of the bow of his LST, of the lurching ashore and clanging and battle sounds of disgorging tanks and troops on Juno Beach on June 6, 1944, and of his disgust and stomach upset over the hideous wounds of those he tended as a medic during the trips back to Great Britain across the English Channel.

Charlie is gone. His memory is fading. As happens in life, lives are lived, wars are fought, people pass on, generations die out, and memories of the suffering are forgotten. Maybe the forgetting is one of the reasons we allow ourselves to keep fighting wars despite the stupidity and agony of it all.

Only 500 hundred veterans of D-Day may be left. Thank God in the prime of their life they were willing to fight. And for 75 years we have memorialized that fight. But my children…their generation forms the last generation to come who will have heard firsthand accounts of D-Day, an epic battle for liberty, a necessary war against evil.

As is human nature, the D-Day memories will fade and the memorializing will pass. That doesn’t mean that the fighting was in vain. But it does mean that, unfortunately, we will fight again.