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The Greatest Generation is a phrase coined by television newsman Tom Brokaw to describe the men and women who fought World War II at home and on the front. The U.S. military casualties exceeded 400,000, and while the nation mourned those deaths, they celebrated the fact that 16 million members of the armed forces were still alive.

Today, on this 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, only a million of those veterans are alive, but one dies every two minutes. That’s 600 a day.

The Dec. 7, 1941, attack on America was devastating, but it was also the day that everyone united to fight Japan, Germany and other “axis” countries.

They didn’t fight for fame and recognition, but because it was the “right thing to do.”

Idaho lost 1,419 in the war. We have a breakdown of the casualties on page 44.

Unless you were there in their shoes, you have no idea what it was like to see and hear the horror of the Second World War, nor can you truly appreciate the triumphs soldiers experienced day by day and battle by battle.

For the past 20 years, the Idaho Press-Tribune has shared many stories from survivors of that war. We’ve collected some of the best in this special Salute to the Greatest Generation. We’ve tried to give updates on the men and women featured in this section, but we weren’t able to track down information on everyone. If you know the status of someone, please send an email to

— Managing Editor Vickie Holbrook

“They answered the call to save the world from the two most powerful and ruthless military machines ever assembled, instruments of conquest in the hands of fascist maniacs. They faced great odds and a late start, but they did not protest. They succeeded on every front … As they now reach the twilight of their adventurous and productive lives, they remain, for the most part, exceptionally modest … In a deep sense they didn’t think that what they were doing was that special, because everyone else was doing it too.”

— Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation

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