World War II Veteran Serves as Volunteer at NTX Hospital

Ray Neal, 92, Proves Age is Just a Number

The Greatest Generation is dying quickly.

Every day, 430 World War II veterans pass away, according to U.S. Veterans Administration figures.

Nationwide, there are more than 697,000 World War II Veterans still alive. In Texas, there is an estimated 43,000 World War II veterans, according to the National World War II Museum.

Decades after the war, Ray Neal is still serving.

"I'm on that last stretch. I don't think I'll have another career after this one," said Neal.

Neal, 92, is a volunteer at Texas Health Huguley Hospital in Burleson.

"I've dedicated my energy to this hospital for the rest of the time I have left," Neal said. "I do enjoy seeing the look on people's faces when you have successfully solved a problem for them."

Neal's wife, Joan, was in poor health the last few years of her life and frequently had visits at Texas Health Huguley. After 64 years of marriage, Joan passed away in 2011.

Neal was inspired to pay back the debt of gratitude that he felt toward his wife's caregivers.

"The major event in my life was meeting and marrying my wife," Neal said. "We were married 64 years to each other and I wouldn't trade a minute of it."

Neal currently works four to five days a week and has volunteered more than 4,000 hours. He works the information desk and serves as a guide for patients and visitors.

"You've got to keep your body and mind active. If you do that well enough, you're old before you know it," said Neal.

Neal joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943. He flew 32 combat missions over Germany, providing support for ground troops. Neal was assigned to inactive reserve in December of 1946.

"I was there for the Battle of the Bulge and the crossing of the Rhine (Operation Plunder), and the end of the war," said Neal. "There's no glory in war. War is nothing but death and destruction."

After the war, Neal spent 34 years at Chance Vought Aircraft Division of United Aircraft Corp. In 1985, he worked for Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Sunnyvale. Neal retired in 1991 and returned to North Texas.

Neal is one out of 145 volunteers at Texas Health Huguley Hospital. He was recently named "Rookie Volunteer of the Year."

"If you can feel a little bit better about being here, then I've done my job," Neal said. "I do feel that staying busy has kept me young."

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