Nearly 500 World War II veterans die every day. The Department of Veterans Affairs says Alaska has the largest population of female WWII vets in the country.

Hazel Johnson joined the military at 21 years old. She was one of the first women to serve and said it was one of the best decisions she ever made. She did mostly clerical work in the United States Army Air Corps.

“I always say I would’ve stayed in if I knew that the Air Force was gonna be separated from the Army and would have those nice blue uniforms,” she joked.

At 93, she still remembers herself as a little girl growing up in Wisconsin.

“I used to lie in bed in the morning and try to figure out how in the world am I ever going to get someplace else other than here?” she recalled.

Now, she’s “crisscrossed” the United States, making friends all across the country. On Veteran’s Day, she said thinks about them.

“I wonder, of course, a lot about what happened to everybody,” Johnson said.

But she has thoughts about using Facebook and technology to keep in touch.

“I keep telling them, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” she joked.

She was discharged as a first lieutenant and moved to Alaska with her husband in 1963.

Johnson says she never thought she’d still be here to share her story at 93. Her secret? She says there isn’t one.

“You just have to get up in the morning,” she said. “You have to stay alive, in other words. There’s no magic to it.”

Johnson has six children and eight grandchildren, all of whom live here in Alaska.