Wit and Wisdom Blog for Atria Senior Living

      Wit and Wisdom      

a new view on growing older
Honoring Veteran Army Nurse, Jean S.

Honoring Veteran Army Nurse, Jean S.


Posted on November 11, 2015 by Kacey Roby


Share to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail PagePrint Page

Nearly 70 years ago, Jean S. – a resident at Atria Evergreen Woods in Florida – returned home after serving as an Army nurse in the China-Burma-India Theater. For three years she cared for sick and injured soldiers in a bamboo ward stationed near an active combat zone. If you met Jean, you would understand what made her a wonderful nurse.

“Jean is very quiet, sweet and nurturing,” said Christina Barzelay, Senior Engage Life Director at Atria Evergreen Woods. “She’s been through a lot and handled it with grace.”

For her service, Jean was awarded a Bronze Star. The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces for heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone.

For three years, Christina has asked Jean to accept the invitation to take the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. – a special trip for military veterans to visit the memorials of the war(s) in which they served. This year, Jean finally agreed to go on one condition – that Christina accompany her.

Jean was a new nurse graduate in 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and she immediately joined the Army to put her new skills to use. After one year of service, she boarded a ship for India – the first time she had left her home state.

Honoring Veteran Army Nurse, Jean S.

“I met my husband on the boat to India,” she said with a smile in her voice. He was drafted and served in the Army for four years in the China-Burma-India Theater. They never thought they would see each other again but they reconnected back in the U.S.  She and her husband were married for 65 years when he passed away. They have three children, seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Like many veterans, Jean is humble and graciously dodges words of thanks and appreciation. She felt she was simply doing the right thing for her country and our servicemen and women during World War II.

At 96 years old, she was a bit nervous about waking early, heading to the airport and spending a full day in our nation’s capital. She wasn’t sure about how far she would have to walk or if there would be stairs to climb. But talking to her after her special day, she confidently said, “They thought of everything – it was amazing!” And having Christina by her side as her official “Honor Flight Guardian” helped as well. “I couldn’t have done it without her. I thank Christina very much,” Jean said.

The special bond between these two ladies is undeniable. Throughout the day, as they visited memorial after memorial – Air Force Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, WWII Memorial, Vietnam Memorial – they had a motto: “Us girls gotta stick together!”

While visiting the WWII Memorial, a tourist saw Jean’s name tag and stopped her. She wanted to shake Jean’s hand and share with her that an Army nurse saved her father’s life in WWII and she was grateful to all Army nurses.

“Jean’s very humble and she doesn’t like to brag about herself,” said Christina. “What she did was really meaningful. It was nice to see her accept it and feel it and know that she was appreciated.”

The best part of Jean’s day in Washington, D.C., occurred before getting on the bus to catch the flight home. Christina found the Vietnam Women’s Memorial – a memorial dedicated to the women of the United States who served in the Vietnam War, most of whom were nurses.

Over the years, Christina has sent many veterans on Honor Flights and has visited the memorials herself, but it was a completely different experience to go with Jean and see everything through her eyes.

“She’s a really, really sweet lady, so it was definitely my honor to accompany her on the flight. It was a wonderful experience for me and something that I will certainly treasure,” Christina said.

When asked what advice Jean would offer to other veterans invited to go on an Honor Flight, she didn’t hesitate with her response.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said. “I just wish that every veteran would go. It’s really worth it!”


Category: Veteran Heroes Tags: ,

8 Comments

  • femke young says:

    I am an ex pow, in Indonesia, of the Japanese. Unfortunately wa had NO medical care ,other than a female dentist, after all that generation did not go to university, they were all housewives, and there were only women and children in our camp in Bandung.
    We were transferred to Batavia, and luckily ended up in a camp with nuns, who had established a small hospital.

    I wish we had a Jean around in bandung.
    She sounds wonderful….

    Now I have been invited by the Japanese Government to visit , at their expense, after 70 yrs. Leaving next week…I’m thrilled.

  • Gloria Saavedra says:

    I wish I could have met her she seems a very caring, loving and beautiful spirit.

    God Bless you Jean

  • Arthur Kkennedy, LCDR,MSC, USN (ret) says:

    There is something really special about the men and women who served. in WWII. My brother-in-law serviced in the Pacific during that war and never spoke about his time. I can’t say how much I admire those who were “there”.
    “Our” war was different. There were no victory dances when we came home.
    WWII was a special time in the history of this great nation. I say to you
    Welcome Home and God Bless you.

  • Sharna Brown says:

    I am so happy that Jean got the chance to experience this once in a lifetime trip. My eyes watered while reading this. I give thanks to all our veterans. Happy Veteran’s Day

  • Mark Welsh says:

    Christina has been an active supporter of Honor Flight West Central Florida for many years. She has continuously encouraged her residents to go on Honor Flights and many Veterans have gone as a result. I was thrilled that Christina acted as Guardian for Jean. I was particularly touched by Jean. My Dad, who I lost in 1988, served in the CBI group and was in a hospital in Calcutta India for over 12 months. They may have met. I am moved…

  • Bobby Jarrett says:

    what an awesome tribute I work at Atria Meridian and we had a resident last weekend that had the opportunity to do this flight also, he was in WW2,Korean, and Vietnam he said it was so emotional just at the airports with all the people we have a lot of veterans at this community and it was so awesome shaking their hands, and thanking them for their service

  • Kate Vance says:

    I love veterans! What a great story!

  • Lucy Valenzuela says:

    I salute you Army Nurse Jean S. You are an inspiration to all women. Thank you for your service. My Dad is a WWII Veteran Airborne. He is also a resident of Atria, Rancho Park in San Dimas California. He just returned from The Honor Flight as well. It was a dream come true for him, such a treasured experience.
    Your Humble Generation puts the pride in being an American