102-year-old Minnesotan one of two remaining survivors of USS Houston

FOREST LAKE, Minn. —  Of the more than 16 million Americans who served in World War II, less than 1%, or 120,000, are still with us today.

Robert Hanley says he’s been thinking about the men lost on the USS Houston for the last 82 years. The 102-year-old was just 20 when his ship was sunk by the Japanese Navy.

“Only 464 of them got off when we got stunk and 363 of them got back from my prison camp,” Hanley said. “So I think about them on Memorial Day and I pray for them.”

Today, Henley is just one of two surviving crewmembers of the ship, as the number of World War II veterans continues to dwindle.

“We’re losing them at such a rapid pace,” Christine Hanley, Robert’s granddaughter, said. “Their information and their inspirational stories should last a lifetime.”

Christine Hanley knows just how inspiring the stories can be. Her grandfather is the reason or her Navy career.

“It’s really interesting to know somebody that has done something so incredible for our country and for other people. And to have the wit and humility that this man has at his age is just phenomenal,” Christine Hanley said.

Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, a ceremony was held honoring Hanley by AccentCare hospice facility, sharing cake and stories with friends and family.

Christine Hanley encourages everyone to take the chance to meet men like her grandfather while they still can.

“I am honored to be able to continue telling his story with him for now,” Christine Hanley said. “But I’m very well aware of the fact that that is quickly… That window is quickly closing so any opportunity that people have to get out there and talk to a veteran, especially World War II veterans, please take the opportunity.”

102-year-old Minnesotan one of two remaining survivors of USS Houston – CBS Minnesota (cbsnews.com)