It may be hard to imagine, but we have only about 4,000 Second World War veterans still living in Atlantic Canada -- which make their stories and accomplishments so important to document.

Lt.-Col. Russell Hubley, DFC , CD (Ret’d) is a 97-year-old veteran who survived the violent skies over Nazi Germany.

“You had 30 seconds from the time you started your bomb run, to the time you dropped your bombs,” Hubley told a meeting of Canada's military past and present this week. Air Force personnel from CFB Greenwood went to Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Hospital to hear a first-hand account of the Second World War from an extraordinary veteran.

You'd be forgiven if you didn't guess Hubley's age correctly. His memory is just as sharp now as his aim was as a gunner with the Pathfinders back then.

The Pathfinders were an elite group that flew in Lancaster bombers to locate and mark bombing targets.

“That shows the Pathfinder aircraft, and if you notice the bright blue going down there, those are indicators,” Hubley says as he points to a painting in his room at Camp Hill.

Being a gunner meant he defended the aircraft from mid-air attacks.

Hubley flew 60 missions -- including D-Day -- and during the massive bombing of the German city of Dresden and he shot down two German aircraft.

“The only time that you felt a bit nervous was when you went on the three-minute run to the target because you couldn't move,” Hubley said. “You had to just fly that straight through, and if you were attacked by fighters then ...”

He doesn’t finish the sentence and his shakes his head.

He remembers the dangers well, but there's humour too.

One of his favorite stories was about the time he accidentally pulled the ripcord on the parachute pack as he was getting ready to board the bomber and got a surprise.

“No parachute came out,” he said. “The flaps of the parachute come down, and inside my parachute was dirty laundry. I said if I jump from 16,000 feet and there was dirty underwear in there, then I should have grabbed them there because they would have been cleaner than mine when I hit the ground.”

Hubley's many medals include the Knight of the French Legion of Honour, France's highest decoration.

On Thursday, members of the same squadron Hubley served with presented him with a special coin.

They say meeting him brings home what the job is like in wartime.

“You don't get that from reading tactics or anything like that,” said Chief Warrant Officer Dean Parsons of the 405 Long Range Patrol Squadron at CFB Greenwood.“It is that face-to-face that to me is something you can't get any other way.”

Another member of the squadron, Lt.-Col. Luc Vachon, agrees.

“It just makes us back in perspective what was before and how important it is to continue in the same way of doing things,” he said.

Listening to the stories from veterans like Hubley is an important way to honour the contributions of Canada's military members past and present.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Heidi Petracek.