10 Oldest World War II Veterans (Updated 2020)

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World War II lasted from 1939 to 1945. During that time, millions of men and women from around the world enlisted in their country’s military and unfortunately, an estimated 50 to 80 million people did not survive. Being a World War II veteran is a distinguished honor and everyone on this list was celebrated for their service. Some of the people on this list are still living, while others have already passed away.

As of April 2020 this list is as accurate as possible and will be updated as needed.

11. Lawrence Brooks (September 12, 1909 – Present)

Oldest Age Reached: 110 years, 6 months, 20 days (as of April 2020)
Still Living:  Yes
Country of Origin:  Norwood, Louisiana, USA
Military Branch:  United States Army

Lawrence Brooksphoto source: nola.com

Lawrence Brooks is currently the oldest living World War II veteran at over 110 years old and may just end up moving higher on this list some day. Although Brooks’ age is impressive, he is actually only the second oldest living person in Louisiana as he was born a few months after Odile Washington.

Brooks received his draft notice when he was 31 years old and ended up joining the U.S. Army. He served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. After the war, Brooks worked as a fork lift operator until he retired at 70.

Did You Know?

By the end of Lawrence Brooks’ military service, he achieved the rank of Private 1st Class.


10. Niko Dragos (August 27, 1907 – March 31, 2018)

Oldest Age Reached: Died in 2018 at the age of 110 years, 7 months, 4 days
Still Living:  No
Country of Origin:  Griblje, Slovenia
Military Branch:  Yugoslav Military

Niko Dragosphoto source: gerontology.wikia.com

Niko Dragos is the oldest Slovenian World War II veteran and also the oldest Slovenian man of all time. Prior to his death in early 2018, Dragos was the oldest living person in Slovenia and was the first Slovenian man to become a supercentenarian. Dragos was born in Griblje, which is in present-day Slovenia, but was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time of his birth.

As a young man, Dragos found a job with the Yugoslav military and worked as a border guard at the Yugoslav-Bulgarian border in present-day Serbia. He later became the head of the border patrol. Not long after the outbreak of World War II, Dragos was captured by the Germans and was held as a prisoner of war until the end of the war. After surviving the war and being released, Dragos worked as a record clerk for the Yugoslav police until he retired in 1965.

Did You Know?

Niko Dragos had two children, who convinced him to write an autobiography for his 100th birthday, which was published in 2007.


9. Gertrude Noone (December 30, 1898 – September 10, 2009)

Oldest Age Reached: Died in 2009 at the age of 110 years, 8 months, 11 days
Still Living:  No
Country of Origin:  Ansonia, Connecticut, USA
Military Branch:  Women’s Army Corps

Gertrude Noonephoto source: gerontology.wikia.com

Gertrude Noone is the second oldest female World War II veteran ever. Noone enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps in 1943 at the age of 44 years old. She continued her service until 1949 and eventually became the chief clerk of the dispensary at Fort Meyer, near Washington D.C. Noone ended her military career with the rank of sergeant first class.

Before her death, Noone was the oldest known living military veteran in the world. According to her grandniece, Noone was proud of this fact and said that she told her niece that it was important to serve when she did during WWII. Noone was buried with full military honors at Mount St. Peter’s Cemetery in Derby, Connecticut.

Did You Know?

After the war, Gertrude Noone worked as an administrative assistant at a private psychiatric hospital in Stamford, Connecticut until she retired in 1962.


8. Gerhart Schneider (March 13, 1908 – December 18, 2018)

Oldest Age Reached: Died in 2018 at the age of 110 years, 9 months, 5 days
Still Living:  No
Country of Origin:  Halberschwerdt, Schlesien, Germany (modern-day Bystrzyca Klodzka, Lower Silesia, Poland)
Military Branch:  German Army

Gerhart Schneiderphoto source: gerontology.wikia.com

Before his recent death at the end of 2018, Gerhart Schneider was the second oldest living man in Germany, just behind Gustav Gerneth, who also happens to be on this list. Schneider was 110 years old at the time of his death and only about four months away from his 111th birthday.

Schneider was born into a family of millers and took over his family’s business a year after he was married. However, Schneider was called off to front during World War II. After some time on the front line, Schneider was captured by French and American forces. Following the War, Schneider resumed his work as a miller and worked for various mills throughout Germany.

Did You Know?

Gerhart Schneider first obtained his driver’s license in 1926 and did not stop driving until he was 102 years old.


7. Leopold Vietoris (June 4, 1891 – April 9, 2002)

Oldest Age Reached: Died in 2002 at the age of 110 years, 10 months, 5 days
Still Living:  No
Country of Origin:  Radkersburg, Austria-Hungary
Military Branch:  Austrian Army

Leopold Vietorisphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Leopold Vietoris was not only a supercentenarian and a veteran of both World Wars, but he was also a notable Austrian mathematician. During his career in mathematics, Vietoris made significant contributions to topology, most notably the Mayer-Vietoris sequence.

Vietoris was studying mathematics and geometry at the Technical University in Vienna, when World War I broke out. He volunteered for service in the Austrian Army in 1914, but was badly wounded about a month after enlisting. After he recovered from his injuries, Vietoris was sent to the Italian front, and despite being in the middle of a war, Vietoris was able to publish his first paper. During his time as a prisoner of war, Vietoris completed writing his doctoral thesis due to being treated well by his Italian captors. When World War II broke out, Vietoris volunteered again, but was 48 years old at the time. He was injured again, but continued his military service until he was 50.

Did You Know?

Leopold Vietoris remained sharp in his later years and was still active in the scientific community, writing a paper on trigonometric sums at the age of 103.


6. Shelby Harris (March 31, 1901 – July 25, 2012)

Oldest Age Reached: Died in 2012 at the age of 111 years, 3 months, 25 days
Still Living:  No
Country of Origin:  Ayrshire, Indiana, USA
Military Branch:  United States Army

Shelby Harrisphoto source: gerontology.wikia.com

Although Shelby Harris enlisted in the United States Army during World War II, he never made it out of basic training due to a broken ankle. Despite never seeing any combat, Harris was still considered a WWII veteran, and was even recognized by the U.S. military on his 110th birthday. Shelby was crowned king for the day by the Rock Island, Illinois community and honored by the Joint Munitions Command for his service.

While he was still living, Harris was the oldest verified man in the United States. Shelby passed away comfortably while he was sleeping at the nursing home he had lived in the for several years. Harris cited love as the secret to his longevity, he said, “One of the greatest things in the world is to love people and believe in people. I just try to live from day to day, I try to live the right kind of life. I try to live the truth. I love everybody and I want everybody to love me.”

Did You Know?

Shelby Harris served as the deacon of his church until hes was 102 years old.


5. Alf Smith (March 29, 1908 – August 4, 2019)

Oldest Age Reached: Died in 2019 at the age of 111 years, 4 months, 6 days
Still Living:  No
Country of Origin:  Invergowrie, Perthshire, Scotland
Military Branch:  British Home Guard

Alf Smithphoto source: gerontology.wikia.com

Although Alf Smith technically did not serve in the military during World War II, he was part of the British Home Guard, which was an armed civilian militia supporting the British Army. The Home Guard helped to slow down the enemy, giving the regular troops enough time to regroup. For this reason, we feel that Smith should be included on this list.

Prior to the War, Smith worked on his family farmed and resumed this work after. Before his death, Smith was one of the oldest living men in the world, along with Bob Weighton, who has the exact same birthday – Weighton is still alive at the time of this writing.

Did You Know?

Alf Smith lived independently until he was about 108 years old. Smith went to live with his daughter until he had a hard fall in 2016.


4. Jerzy Pajaczkowski-Dydynski (July 19, 1894 – December 6, 2005)

Oldest Age Reached: Died in 2005 at the age of 111 years, 4 months, 18 days
Still Living:  No
Country of Origin:  Poland, but based in the United Kingdom
Military Branch:  Polish Army

Jerzy Pajaczkowski-Dydynskiphoto source: gerontology.wikia.com

Before he died in 2005, Jerzy Pajaczkowski-Dydynski was the oldest living man in the United Kingdom. Due to his age, Pajaczkowski-Dydynski was a veteran of both World Wars. In 1912, he was studying law, but at the outbreak of World War I, he went to Vienna, Austria to enlist in the Army. He was called up in 1915 and rose through the ranks.

By the time World War II started, Pajaczkowsi-Dydynski was a lieutenant-colonel in the Polish Army. After Poland fell, Pajaczkowski-Dydynski  escaped with his family to Paris, where he continued his army work. He escaped with his family once more after the fall of Paris in 1940 and safely made it to Edinburgh, where he remained until 1993. Pajaczkowski-Dydynski remained in the United Kingdom until his death and did not visit Poland again until he was 97 years old.

Did You Know?

For his service during both World Wars, Pajaczkowski-Dydynski received several Polish decorations, including: the Cross of Polonia Restituta; Cross of Valour (1920); Silver Cross of Merit (1925). He also received a  Romanian decoration of distinction (1931) and three Austrian decorations in WWI for active service.


3. Emma Didlake (March 13, 1904 – August 16, 2015)

Oldest Age Reached: Died in 2015 at the age of 111 years, 5 months, 3 days
Still Living:  No
Country of Origin:  United States of America
Military Branch:  Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps

Emma Didlakephoto source: obamawhitehouse.archives.gov

Prior to her death in 2015, Emma Didlake was the oldest living American World War II veteran. She is also currently the oldest female veteran from WWII ever. About a month before her death, Didlake was honored by then U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House.

Didlake was 38 years old and a mother of five children when she decided to join the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. During her service, she held the rank of Private and remained in the U.S. as a driver. She earned several medal for her military contributions, including the Women’s Army Corps Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, and World War II Victory Medal. After the War, Didlake and her family moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she remained until the end of her life.

Did You Know?

Emma Didlake was a part of the Detroit chapter of the NAACP and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963.


2. Richard Overton (May 11, 1906 – Present)

Oldest Age Reached: Died at in 2018 at the age of 112 years, 7 months, 16 days
Still Living:  Yes
Country of Origin:  United States of America
Military Branch:  United States Army

Richard Overtonphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Richard Overton is the oldest America World War II veteran and recently passed away at 112 years of age. Overton served in the U.S. Army during the War and arrived at Pearl Harbor with his black segregated unit immediately after the Japanese bombed the base. He continued to serve until 1945 and achieved a technician fifth grade rank. For his service during the war, Overton received several awards, including a U.S. Army Good Conduct Medal, Expert Rifle Marksmanship Badge, Meritorious Unit Commendation, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and World War II Victory Medal.

Overton’s life and status as both a supercentenarian and WWII veteran have been highlighted several times through news articles as well as a National Geographic short documentary titled Mr. Overton. On his 111th birthday in May 2017, Overton’s community renamed the street he has lived on for over seven decades as Richard Overton Avenue.

Did You Know?

The mayor of Austin, Texas declared Overton’s birthday (May 11th) as Richard Overton Day.


1. Gustav Gerneth (October 15, 1905 – Present)

Oldest Age Reached: Died in 2019 at the age of 114 years, 7 days
Still Living:  Yes
Country of Origin:  Germany/Poland
Military Branch:  German Luftwaffe

Gustav Gernethphoto source: gerontology.wikia.com

Gustav Gerneth  recently passed away at the age of 114, making him the oldest World War II veteran ever in the world. Prior to his death, Gustav was also the oldest living man in the world. Gerneth was born in Stettin, which at the time was part of the German Empire and is now in Poland as Szczecin. Currently, Gerneth lives in Havelberg, Germany.

Prior to World War II, Gerneth worked as a machinist for a shipping company. During the War, he served as a mechanic with the Luftwaffe, which was the aerial warfare branch of the combined German Wehrmacht military forces during World War II.

Did You Know?

Gustav Gerneth is the first German-born citizen to reach 114 years of age.


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