Simplified: Rosalie Ovenden served as a records keeper for Bunker Hill Naval Air Station in Indiana during World War II. The now-100-year-old Sioux Falls resident talked to Sioux Falls Simplified about her experience in the service and what Veterans Day means to her.

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Ovenden had just moved back to her home state of Ohio at age 22 when she decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy.

"They needed women to serve," she said. "Within a month's time, I went through the whole business of joining."

It was 1940, and Ovenden found herself flying to New York to Oklahoma to Indiana as she underwent training and took her station at Bunker Hill.

  • At her formative age, Ovenden said her days went from doing whatever she wanted to living under someone else's direction.
  • Her experience in the Navy also completely changed her perspective on what it meant to love her country.
"Before I joined the Navy, I never had any real commitment to my country," Ovenden said. "Once I joined the Navy, I had an entirely different feeling about my country. And I think most of the people felt that way too, that they were doing something that was important, that would help history."

Ovenden served until the end of the war, and when the naval base was closed, she was one of the last remaining service members because she had to keep all of the records throughout.

During her time at Bunker Hill, she also met her future husband, Lt. Kenneth Richardson Ovenden.

"We weren't supposed to date officers," Ovenden said. "But he had a car."

What's Veterans Day like as a WWII veteran?

Ovenden said it's an important reminder of the young people who served and those who gave their life for their country.

For her, it's also an opportunity to reflect on how far women have come in the military – including leadership roles.

  • Just last week, the nation swore in Adm. Lisa Franchetti as its chief of naval operations – the first time a woman has been the Navy's highest-ranked uniformed officer.

Ovenden said this week she's glad to see veterans recognized. She is one of more than three dozen veterans at Good Samaritan's Sioux Falls Village nursing home who was honored during a party Friday morning – which Administrator Dana Bachmeier said is the most veterans the facility has seen at one time.

"(Joining the Navy) was a volunteer thing," Ovenden said, "but we did quite a service. When you join the military, your life is not your own."