OLATHE, Kan. -- As the nation prepares to honor our veterans, two men who flew in bombers over Germany during World War II met for the first time Monday.
Both Richard Yunghans and Charley Sibert were only 18 years old when they entered the Army Air Corps. Both served as gunners in bombers with some very different experiences.
"Your life could be taken at any time," Yunghans recalled.
Yunghans, 90, flew 25 missions in Europe in both the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator. His last mission came on the day Germany surrendered.
"There at first they said we were losing hundreds of planes a month because the Germans had a lot of fighters," Yunghans said. "But by the time I got in there, there wasn't any German planes up there. I only saw one German fighter when I flew 25 missions."
Sibert, 91, was shot down during his second mission, during the second raid on Schweinfurt, Germany. He survived and was taken prisoner for more than 500 days. As an 18-year-old kid, he still vividly remembers bailing out of his airplane.
"I turned loose and I had an ME-109 pilot coming in at that time," Sibert said. "I heard about them shooting you in the chute which happened in some cases. He went by and looked at me. And saluted like that."
Both men say their oral histories should be shared and preserved because the number of World War II veterans is dwindling every day.
Although they had never met, both men say they share a special bond between veterans who carried out similar roles during wartime.
Both men also say it's important that we as a nation continue to support soldiers that sacrifice for our freedoms.