‘She’s a trailblazer’: WWII nurse honored at 106 years old

Irene Hosking continued to help service members even after her enlistment ended in 1946

Irene Hosking was just 24 years old when she enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps on May 15, 1942. Her dedication to service members didn’t end when World War II did, however, and she was recently celebrated for her lifetime of achievements.

When we say “lifetime,” we’re not just throwing that word around. Now 106 years old, Hosking was made an honorary member of Aleda E. Lutz Medical Center’s nurse honor guard. The Bay City, Michigan, facility feted the centenarian during the Marine Corps league’s meeting on the USS Edson last week.

“She’s a trailblazer,” Thomas Linabury, commandant of the Edson Kline VanSlyke Marine Corps League, told news outlet WNEM 5. “She’s the first female to do certain things back in her time. And her story and the story she tells are just wonderful.”

During her service, Hosking was one of the first female nurses to give anesthesia to an injured soldier in the Pacific Theater. She was stationed in Australia. “(I can recall) how they were able to endure the pain of getting their dressings done,” Hosking told VFW magazine last year. “Those are the things I remember the most. I am very, very happy that I was a registered nurse. I was able to help them.”

Despite that, she — like all women at that time — was denied entry into her local Veterans of Foreign Wars council when she came back home in 1946. Following decades of effort, though, she not only joined the VFW, she became the first female commander of Michigan’s Shiawassee VFW County Council in 1995.

“I definitely know that she served her veterans as we do as well and wanted her to be a part of every event going forward,” Kristine Rodgers, a VA nurse at Lutz, told the news outlet.

“I think it really highlights the importance of serving our country and serving our veterans going forward and the importance of nursing in general,” Rogers said. “We need nurses out there nationwide.”

The veteran said her longevity can be credited to healthy eating, as well as drinking a little tequila every New Year’s Eve.

“The things that she did for all of us, our country, and the sacrifices that she made as a nurse, and a nurse anesthetist back in those days, and just the fact that she’s she is who she is. She’s a wonderful person,” Linabury added.

Hosking said she was honored by last week’s acknowledgement and she would continue to honor “the enlisted men that had to go out and get shot at.”