That's the number of World War Two veterans that die every single day.
The Northeast Indiana Honor Flight network wants ALL of the one-million who are still living to visit their memorial in Washington D.C. "We're paying some people back for some things that they did,” says Honor Flight Board Member Dennis Covert. But Covert isn't just a board member. He's footing the $60,000 bill for the trip, "And really if you think about it, the donation is fairly small for what they did for us,” he says.
Wednesday morning, 79 World War Veterans took off for the nation's capitol. Waiting in the plane, one by one, I heard their stories. First was Eileen, a nurse that was stationed in Germany. "I sang Silent Night, and then I sang it in German. All the German people were there. And tears started running down their eyes thinking an American would be singing "stille nacht” she says.
My seat mate was Dale Smith, an Air Force pilot who flew a B-17 on 29 bombing missions over Germany. His story... he told me his heart was never set on flying planes. "When I went in, I was going in the NAVY line but I got in wrong line, it was the Air Force line. I said, it's alright, they fly in the air, too, so that's the way I went!" he says.
During the flight, he told me every maneuver the pilot was making before we made our destination. Once we arrived, nearly 300 people welcomed these heroes to Reagan International Airport. Everywhere we went... people stopped to say thank you, especially as they entered their memorial.
Watching these men and women see *their* memorial... was so emotional. Norm Dales, an Army veteran says, "It was something out of the past. Didn't expect it, but it was a dream."
Sharing their stories is tough. For some, opening up was just too much. "He never did. He always used to tell me he had KP,” says Pat Hans, who was her father Norm's guardian for the trip.
The vets went to the other sites in the city, like the Vietnam and Korean War memorials and the Air Force Memorial. "I like the Air Force thing up there as well as anything. You got the whole view of the city, it was nice up there,” says Len Harlan, a Navy veteran.
They also watched the changing of the guards at the tomb of the unknown. They even took part in the ceremony. "I don't feel qualified like I should be doing it, but I did. And, it was just such an honor,” says Eileen who took part in the ceremony.
They call them “The Greatest Generation”. The world wouldn't be what it is today without their sacrifices.
Hans learned on the trip about her father that, "He enlisted right after his 18th Birthday because he said this was going to be the defining moment of his generation and he didn't want to miss it!'"
Back in the day, these servicemen lived for the telegrams they got once a week. To bring back those memories, Honor Flight delivered mail to the veterans on their way home. Fighter Pilot Paul Grossnickel says, "I was very surprised to get these letters. Some of them are from the girls in my office."
Duane Cable now holds the record for being the Northeast Honor Flights oldest veteran. At 99-years old, he says, "There's all kinds of letters in here. From my grand kids... my great grand kids." Letters of appreciation from a new generation to one that sacrificed so much in "The War to End All Wars". But to them, veteran Oscar says, "I was just doing my job..."
When they returned to Indiana, nearly 2,000 people greeted them at the Fort Wayne airport. And as for Duane... the oldest member of the group. This welcome takes him back to the day he returned from war 70 years ago.
For many of these World War II veterans, this was the very first time they've been in Washington D.C. And even after a long 15-hour, they say it was the trip of a lifetime.