I have heard seemingly everywhere since President George H.W. Bush passed away that he was the last president who served during WWII from what has been famously dubbed “The Greatest Generation.” However, this is incorrect. James Earl Carter, who served as President from 1977 to 1981 attended the U.S. Naval Academy as a midshipman from 1943 through 1946, and is entitled to wear the WWII Victory Medal and American Campaign Medal. Carter is indeed the last living President to have served in WWII.
Some people may call into question that Carter was a student; however, it does not matter as he was still in service to his country and could have been called up at any time. While service at the academy does not count as time credited for active duty, these midshipmen are indeed active duty military personnel serving as students, ready to serve and fight for their country like any other enlisted or officer personnel.
An interesting note in the process of becoming a World War II veteran is to look at the government statutes. Officially, a person who served even one day of active duty through Dec. 31, 1946 — the day President Harry S. Truman declared hostilities ended — is authorized to wear the WWII Victory medal per the Code of Federal Regulations. Carter is one of these men, as he began active duty on June 5, 1946 as a commissioned officer, serving as an Ensign in the Navy on his graduation date from the U.S. Naval Academy.
U.S. Navy veteran