DEARBORN, Mich. (WJBK) - Out of the 16 million Americans who served their country in World War II, less than 500,000 are still with us. It is a staggering statistic to think of as we approach Veterans Day this Sunday. But veteran Dorothy Smith is still going strong at 98 years old.
Smith's favorite photo captured her big day in 1944, the day she got hitched to the love of her life, Floyd Smith. The photo brought back tears, laughs, and a much simpler time.
"There wasn't TV, I did a lot of knitting," she quipped.
Smith now lives at Beaumont Commons in Dearborn. She says after receiving her nursing degree in 1942, she became a member of the Army Air Forces - what the Air Force was called back then - and worked as a nurse at the Rapid City Army Air Base near Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
"I had to stretch to get to be 5 foot," she said. "That's why I couldn't be in the Navy, they wanted you to be 5'2"."
Smith says she loved her time there, even her simple space.
"You had a bed, you had a dresser," she said. "That's it. And a chair."
Smith treated servicemen who had contracted meningitis or officers suffering other ailments, and made about $200 a month.
"That was pretty good," Smith said. "When I started out, I was making $90 and I was working midnights."
And after one 12-hour shift, Smith, with another girlfriend, wandered across the field into an officer's club and guess who happened to be there.
"He and another officer were there and playing cards and finally they saw us (and said), 'How would you like to dance?' 'Sure we'll dance.'"
Walking the two back to the barracks, Smith says her future husband, Floyd Smith, called her up the next day.
"He sent me a dozen roses. I was really flabbergasted by that," she said.
FOX 2: "He really liked you."
"Well maybe, he didn't have too many girlfriends before. I don't know," she laughed.
After dating eight months the two tied the knot in 1944 and not long after, the couple expected their first child as Floyd was sent overseas. Smith tells us the girl was about four and a half months old when Floyd came back.
Later, moving back to Michigan, Dorothy continued her work as a nurse as Floyd spent 35 years working at Ford Motor Co. The couple celebrated 70 years of marriage before his passing in 2014. But his memory lives on, especially with their three children, four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
"They keep track of me," she said. "One calls me in the morning to make sure I'm up."
Now as Smith gets ready to enjoy a nice Veterans Day meal this weekend, the 98-year-old is reminded of how she became a part of this day, encouraging us to do the same.
"Do what you want to and enjoy it."