99-year-old veteran remembers German prisoners, service during WWII

Local News

EVANSVILLE, In. (WEHT) — July 4th celebrations are underway in the Tri-State — but one Evansville veteran celebrates America’s independence every day.

Irene Blessing is 99-years-old, and served our country during World War II.

She celebrates America every day by wearing an American flag; and even her room at The Protestant Home in Evansville is a tribute to those who continue to keep the country safe.

“We landed in the Carolinas, and oh! What a wonderful feeling to be back in America,” she says of her homecoming from England after her service.

If you ever meet Irene Blessing, ask to hear her stories of World War II.

“We could tell whether these German prisoners could understand English, just by watching their eyes…”

When the men, including her husband, went off to war, Irene wanted to serve too.

“I wanted to join the Navy, but they wouldn’t let me because I was married.”

Irene didn’t take “no” for an answer …. no matter who it came from.

“When I wrote and told my husband, I got a letter back. There was nothing on the page, except two letters: N.O!” She laughs.

She joined the Army as a nurse and was stationed in England. But her service came with a personal price.

“I don’t think the girls today could stand what we went through. It was three years that I didn’t see my husband.”

Irene’s memories of those long nights in England are filled with strange songs from German prisoners in her care.

“At night, those men would sing. And it was beautiful. And we often said… We doubt very much whether our boys were allowed to do that.”

These days, she is quick with a joke and is a favorite regular at some local restaurants.

She is surrounded by many generations of family and friends who love her…

“I have two boys… And two girls … “

And they help carry on the family tradition.

“My two boys went in service. I was always proud of that.”

Between her, her father, husband, and children, members of Irene’s family served in the Navy, Army, the Air Force, National Guard, and the Marines.

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(This story was originally published on July 4, 2019)



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