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North Texas Woman Among Shrinking Number Of WW II Vets

By Carol Cavazos, CBS 11 News
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A bouquet of roses wrapped in red white and blue ribbon rests at the National World War II Memorial. (credit: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

A bouquet of roses wrapped in red white and blue ribbon rests at the National World War II Memorial. (credit: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A North Texas woman is one of the diminishing numbers of U.S. veterans of World War II. She was the only female in a group of about 50 veterans recently honored in our nation’s capital.

After her return from the event, World War II nurse Bernice Press shared her memories with CBS 11 News.

Bernice unpacks her bags from the trip to the World War II Memorial and unfolds a lifetime of memories.

“When Pearl Harbor happened, everybody joined the… joined the military,” she remembered. “[I felt] that was my patriotic duty.”

Bernice Press is now 92-years-old but isn’t stagnant. “I’m doing something all the time.”

Bernice was just 25 years old when she enlisted in the Navy as a nurse. The year was 1944. She remembers the recruitment videos that said, “Join the Navy to see the world.” She said it was something sold as being very ‘romantic’.

But Bernice didn’t end up seeing the world. “I saw Long Beach!” she said laughing.

The young woman was sent to the California naval hospital for 18 months. There she care for wounded that had fought in the Pacific.

U.S. veterans of World War II were once 16,000,000 strong. Historians predict that by the year 2020 they’ll all be gone.

Like many of her generation, Bernice doesn’t like to draw attention to her sacrifice. “Well, it really is kind of humbling I think.”

But Bernice can’t hide that she’s glad her service has been recognized. “It really, it really feels kind of good,” she said proudly. “That I was part of it [history].”

Bernice Press was able to travel to Washington, D.C. thanks to Honor Flight DFW. The network is a charitable organization that gives World War II veterans a chance to visit the memorial built in their honor.

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