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One of the oldest living veteran Army nurses dies at 99

Army nurses standing at attention in front of their barracks (US Army/Released)

The veteran community in Elgin last week mourned the passing of former Army nurse Pauline Marzec-Bostic, who at 99-years-old was among the oldest living Army nurses in the nation.

According to a database kept by the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, Marzec-Bostic was the oldest living Army nurse in Texas, though not all women who served are part of its database, said Marilla Cushman, the foundation’s public relations coordinator.

Marzec-Bostic was born in Elgin on Nov. 28, 1919, and graduated from Elgin High School in 1936 before enrolling at the Seton School of Nursing at age 17, according to information provided by the Elgin Funeral Home.

Marzec-Bostic joined the U.S. Army Nursing Corps in 1941 and was stationed at Camp Barkley near Abilene when Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor later that year. In a short memoir she wrote, entitled “What’s a Nice Girl From Elgin Doing in a Place Like This?” Marzec-Bostic recalled how that day altered the course of her life. Her platoon of 18 nurses headed overseas on Feb. 14, 1943.

“We traveled across the equator on to Wellington, New Zealand. Then, we went to St. Kilda, Australia,” she wrote. “That was the first time we got off the boat. The officers marched us on land and we passed a café. The officers said we should stay outside while the men went in for some food and drink. You know that wasn’t going over with us, so we went in the café anyway and had the best steak we had ever tasted.”

Her wartime travels then took her to Bombay, India and Sri Lanka, then across the Indian Ocean to Egypt, Palestine and Jerusalem. Then, on D-Day, her platoon was stationed in Evesham, England, where Marzec-Bostic met her first husband, Edmund Marzec. Their honeymoon in Paris was cut short after she was called to treat wounded soldiers during the Seize of Bastogne in December 1944.

“Some of the wounded were Germans wearing American uniforms and dog tags. They spoke better English than the Germans in Fredericksburg,” Marzec-Bostic wrote. “When they started getting the IV anesthetic, they started counting in English, then reverted to German. When they came out of anesthetic, one of the Jewish doctors, who had a great sense of humor, told the Germans that they might as well stay there because Hitler wouldn’t have them back since they were not pure Aryan anymore. He told them they had been given transfusions of Jewish blood while they were under anesthetic.”

Marzec-Bostic returned from the war in May 1945 when she was pregnant with twins, who she would later give birth to in Camp Swift.

After living in Iowa and Indianna, Marzec-Bostic moved back to Elgin in 1956, buying a house along Texas 95, according to her obituary. After her husband’s passing in 1966, she remarried in 1971 to Bobbie Bostic.

Marzec-Bostic is survived by her twin daughters, three grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

“Growing up in Elgin, I never imagined I would see the places in the world I had only read about,” she wrote in her memoir. “The horrors of the war took me to four continents.”


© 2019 Austin American-Statesman