WWII Veterans Remember V-E Day

As the world marks the 60th anniversary of the Allies defeat of Nazi Germany, the number of veterans who bore witness to the historic event is dwindling.

Sixteen million Americans served in World War II, but fewer than 4 million are still alive.

"When you see veterans from the second World War today, I think the thing to remember is that you're looking at living history," said D-Day research historian Martin Morgan.

ABC News gathered a group of World War II veterans, who offered their recollections of the fateful day.

Of the surviving veterans who have crystal clear memories of the moment, none was closer to it than Hugh Tinley, then a captain on Eisenhower's staff who was in the war room at the time of the Nazis surrender.

"You caught yourself just holding your breath in there," Tinley told ABC News. "This is the end."

Now 87 years old and living in Omaha, Neb., Tinley says he still savors the Nazis' unconditional surrender.

"The world was afraid of them," he said. "They overran France and half of Russia. They were ruling the world and we beat them."

"The word just spread like wildfire as you might expect," said veteran Jack Sullivan, who was freed from a prison camp near Dachau, Germany. "They didn't have a PA system, but the word was like, 'The Krauts have quit.' "

'They Quit Shooting'

"It was hard to believe, but they quit shooting at us," said George Wichterich, who was fighting near the Elbe River at the time of the surrender. "So that was a relief right there."

Tom Blakey was in a newly liberated France at the time.

"We felt wonderful," he said. "And the champagne we were drinking made us feel better."

"We were right to fight these people," Sullivan added. "It was incredible what they [the Nazis] did."

All the veterans interviewed by ABC News agree that, unlike more recent conflicts, World War II was unambiguous.

The men say they know which side they were on: the right side.

"My country. Right or wrong. My country," said George Leidenheimer, who was fighting with Wichterich.

The veterans say they are undoubtedly proud of their service.

"People say, 'You're a hero.' Well, I don't think I'm a hero," said former Sgt. Ed Gorecki, who fought in Africa, Italy and Germany. "I think them guys that are over there, still lying there are the ones who are the heroes."

Nevertheless, there is still something remarkable about these old soldiers -- the warriors who humbly and bravely saved the world.

ABC News' Dean Reynolds filed this report for "World News Tonight."

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