EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - A Tri-State woman who served during the war is turning 100-years-old on Saturday, Nov. 22 and the local veteran had a special visitor Friday afternoon.
Irene Blessing is celebrating a century. Her milestone is catching the attention of a lawmaker who came to Evansville to spend some time with her and even brought with him special gifts.
Enlisting on May 26, 1943, Blessing is the oldest living female veteran in Vanderburgh County.
“And I do thank Him for giving me such a long life because I’ve been able to see my family do various things, the children growing up,” Blessing said.
Born the daughter of a World War I Navy veteran, Blessing worked as a nurse at the 228th army hospital in England.
“Her most trying moments in the hospital came in the wake of D-day after being woken up by the deafening noise of airplane engines overhead,” Congressman Larry Bucshon stated. “Irene and the rest of the hospital staff began receiving patients two days later.”
Blessing recalls laundry piling up and having to turn sheets over to get the clean side just to keep up with the patients. While serving wounded allies with honor, she and her fellow nurses also graciously treated wounded German prisoners of war.
“She said, ‘they were people, we had to do it’,” Bucshon quoted Blessing.
Blessing tells us she decided she wanted to be a nurse at only 9-years-old.
She was discharged in December of 1945 and would later move to Evansville.
During Congressman Larry Bucshon’s surprise visit, he brought with him special gifts including a statement submitted to the Congressional record recognizing Irene’s 100th birthday and service to our country, plus a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol.
“Our flag is the most beautiful in all the world and I would defy anyone to say anything different,” Blessing stated. “I’ve always respected the flag.”
These days Irene likes to knit and crochet while trying to stay busy and visit around.
“There’s so much that, at times, I just fill up with gratitude,” Blessing smiled.
With her birthday coming only days before Thanksgiving, she says it’s her loved ones who have made a long life fulfilling.
“Just remember—be good to all of your families,” Blessing told us.
In addition to her father, Blessing says other family members also served including her brother who was on the LST and then later, her two sons.
Blessing, full of personality, joked she wanted an adult drink for her birthday.