LAKEWOOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – An Ocean County woman just celebrated her 100th birthday and is looking back on her days of service during World War II.
CBS2’s Meg Baker had the opportunity to sit down with her in Lakewood.
“It was all a highlight,” Barbara June Gage said.
Gage served three years as a flight nurse during World War II. She just turned 100 and the memories make her smile like she is 24 again.
“Picked them up when they were badly wounded and took care of them until we dropped them off at the station.”
She was sent to the South Pacific and was stationed in Pearl Harbor. Gage, whose married name is Gruning, even wrote a book titled “Flight Nurse” about her adventures.
“The only thing we couldn’t cure was athlete’s foot… no matter how much soaking we did it wouldn’t clear up and we had to send them home haha.”
She nursed the wounded on hundreds of flights from Guam, Saipan, and the Philippines. Her last mission was picking up and caring for prisoners of war from Japan.
“They were so thin and they had so many tales to tell.”
She only remembers one time where she thought she might not make it back from Guam.
“Half way out our engine was on fire!”
When she was back on land in the chow line, “the girls saw me said ‘Gagey we thought you had gone down with your plane!’”
Gage says most of the flights were 12 hours between islands and longer to get back to the states.
The nurses at Hearthstone Estates Assisted Living in Lakewood say Gage’s key to longevity is her rigorous workout routine.
“A woman back in those days being able to do as much as she did for our country I thought was a wonderful thing,” nurse Diana Ross said.
“Oh I wouldn’t change it for anything, all those memories I have,” Gage said.
Gage added she looked forward to being back on base for Saturday night dances and will never forget the brilliant sunrises as her plane took off on another rescue mission. Her book is dedicated to all of her patients.