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98-year-old veteran is honored for her service as a nurse in World War II

Hospice of Michigan honors 98-year-old WWII veteran Aldean Mason during a special pinning ceremony at Azpira Place of Breton in Kentwood on Friday, May 29, 2020. Mason served as a nurse in the United States Army Nurse Corps.

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By JADA FISHER | MLive.com, Walker, Mich. | Published: May 29, 2020

KENTWOOD, Mich. — Aldean Mason, a 98-year-old veteran who served as a nurse in World War II, was honored for her service Friday morning.

The pinning ceremony at Azpira Place of Breton in Kentwood was also streamed on Zoom so her family and friends could participate.

Mason was honored as part of Hospice of Michigan’s We Honor Veterans program. She was presented with a pin of the American flag and a certificate of appreciation by Cheryl Lambert, chaplain for Hospice of Michigan.

“Thank you for the sacrifices you made and your willingness to serve our country," Lambert said. "When you see this pin, know that your service to the nation is deeply appreciated.”

Following the pinning ceremony, Mason was celebrated with fellow residents during a parade in her honor. The parade took place inside of Azpira.

While Hospice of Michigan aims to honor all veterans in hospice care, Mason happens to have a particularly unique story, Lambert said.

Mason was born on Oct. 24, 1921 to a family of six other children in the state of Washington. After her parents died, Mason assumed the role of caregiver for her five brothers and one sister.

After completing nursing school, Mason joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps during World War II. As a part of the 120th Evacuation Hospital Unit under General Patton’s 3rd Army, her responsibility was to care of U.S. soldiers.

During the final days of the war, her unit entered Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. There, Mason cared for Holocaust survivors, treating them for typhus and malnutrition, among other illnesses.

“Today we thank you not only for dedicating your nursing skills to helping others survive but for your compassion that gave them the will to live," Lambert said.

Mason went on to marry and start a family with her husband, Walt, who served in the army as well. Although they served in the same unit, they did not meet until after the war.

Since joining the Azpira community in 2013, Mason has impacted the lives of residents and staff.

Rebecca Papke, wellness manager at Azpira, describeed Mason as quiet, has a sweet tooth and is a “pleasure to have here.”

“We’re so proud of Aldean’s bravery, Aldean’s fortitude and Aldean’s courage," said Jenny Osentoski, executive director at Azpira. "Aldean has been and continues to be a blessing to so many people.”

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