Josephine Bogdanich (ex-US Army sergeant) has plenty to celebrate as Veteran’s Day is fast approaching. 

This retired military woman recently celebrated her 105th birthday, which makes her the oldest WWII veteran in America. 

Also, she was the oldest passenger on the inaugural all-female “Honor Flight” to Washington, D.C. last month, paying tribute to the women who served the military. 

Bogdanich, a veteran of the Veteran’s Home in Manteno (Illinois) since 2017, stated that she had informed everyone involved that I needed to wake up at night to catch a 2-am flight. 

“I was afraid that they wouldn’t wake me, and would miss an opportunity to travel with the 93 female vets.The Vietnam Women’s War Memorial is located in Arlington, Virginia. 

“The trip was one my highlights in life.” 

Josephine Bogdanich

Josephine Bogdanich

Army Sergeant Josephine Bogdanich (of Chicago) is at 105 years old and one of the most distinguished WWII veterans living today.

Sgt. Josephine Bogdanich and Korean War Air Force Veteran Amelia Cunningham waiting to board first all-women's HerStory Honor Flight to Washington on October 6

Sergeant Sgt.

Bogdanich is a supercentenarian and can remember that moment when America entered World War II. He also recalls enlisting in the army many years later.    

Chicago native, the former soldier landed a position at Illinois Bell Telephone Company in the role of switchboard operator.  

Just moments before America declared war on Japan and entered the war, she was at work in the evening of December 7, 1941. 

I was answering the phone, taking calls and answering people’s questions. When suddenly, the switchboard light up like a Christmas tree,” she said. 

“Pearl Harbor is far away from us, and that was the moment we panicked,” said the man on the other end.

We soon found out that Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese, which meant we were in war. We were both shocked and scared. 

‘They said we needed to work late into the evening, and we begged our supervisors for more information, they replied, “Don’t worry.” “Just answer all the calls.”

Josephine was born to Johanna Kimmey and Frank Kimmey in Josephine’s grandmother’s home near the Chicago streetcar barns on October 15, 1916. She was one of five children – two boys and three girls. 

Josephine was assigned to the mailroom at Fort Bliss in Texas where she delivered letters and packages to her fellow soldiers

Josephine served in Fort Bliss, Texas’ mailroom. There she received letters and parcels from her fellow soldiers.

Not long after the US declared war, her two brothers Frank and Joe enlisted in the army Pictured left to right:  Joe, Mary,  Frank and Josephine

Not long after the US declared war, her two brothers Frank and Joe enlisted in the army Pictured left to right:  Joe, Mary,  Frank and Josephine

Shortly after the US declared War in 1941, Joe and Frank enlisted in army. One brother was an overseas tail gunman, and he survived eleven separate missions.

The war had raged by 1944 and Josephine and Mary volunteered. They enlisted in the US Army and completed basic training in Iowa.

She said, “I recall that we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of another world.” ‘We lived in a barracks together with women all over the nation, from various backgrounds. All there because we wanted help.

The weather was very cold in Iowa. Only pot-belly and big iron stoves provided heat. Everyone took turns rising at 5:30 am to tend to the fires. 

“We added wood and coal to the stoves, lit the fire, and went back to sleep hoping that at least some heat would arrive before we got up for work.

Josephine was in the service for two years. Six months before her due date to retire, the platoon received word that they required five females to travel to China. 

When she checked in with her brother, who was currently serving overseas, she said to her: “Absolutely do not volunteer.” Keep your current position. Josephine declined the offer. 

She recalls the mother and daughter who joined together but volunteered instead.

Josephine served two years during her stint in Washington, Virginia, and Kansas. She attended teletype school.

“To be truthful, I wasn’t very good at it,” she laughed. “The next thing you know, I was assigned to Fort Bliss, Texas’s mailroom.

Josephine right and sister Mary left. They enlisted together in 1944. Josephine was discharged in 1946

Josephine left and Mary right. In 1944, they enlisted together. Josephine was discharged on 26 June 1946 

The supercentenarian, who lived through the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, became ill with covid-19 last May but is still going strong a year and a half later

This supercentenarian lived through 1918’s Spanish Flu pandemic and was still alive a year later.

She admitted that she liked her job.

She said, “I was able to send letters and parcels to soldiers who were overjoyed to receive them,”

“They would sometimes receive terrible news from someone or get a note from their sweetheart, so we needed to offer comfort and understanding.

“There were many men who had empty mailboxes so I and other women would send them little notes in an anonymous manner to let them know how appreciated they were and what their services meant to me. 

“And we would tell them that, if they ever felt down or overwhelmed, there would be somebody there to listen. Many of them accepted our offer.

Some women were able to find men that they liked and went on dates. 

The majority of the time, however, they would meet up on their own in the evening and then head to the PX for ice cream, candy or a drink. 

One story she recalled from Texas was something that she has cherished over the years.  

“One day, a soldier received a visit from his spouse who lived at the base.” Josephine stated that the woman came along with her baby, aged one, and she said she would be leaving him.

Josephine has been living at a veteran's home in Manteno since 2017 where she says she likes to stays as active as possible, bowling in the hallways, playing Bingo or going fishing in the pond out front with the men

Josephine is a Veteran’s Home resident in Manteno, where she has lived since 2017, and she loves to be active. She likes playing bingo, going bowling, fishing, and walking the corridors with her fellow veterans.

“He couldn’t believe his luck, and he wasn’t sure what he would do.” The entire base rallied to his aid. 

“The baby was given clothes by the women, which included a mini army uniform. The female lieutenants helped to look after the infant until the orders were received from the men, who then released him from his duties. 

“He brought the baby back to his parents. I have always wondered what happened to him and the little boy.” 

Josephine, pictured at the VA home on October 13, says she has 'so much to be grateful for'

Josephine is pictured with the VA on October 13. She says there’s’so many things to be thankful for’ 

Josephine, who was relieved of duty in 1946, returned to the telephone company and worked there for several months before she got a job as an administrator with the Illinois and Western Indiana Railroad. Her arrival at home in 1946 was met with mixed emotions.

“Some people were very thankful and thanked me,’ she stated. “While I was treated indifferently by others, the military is not a place for women,” she said. 

Josephine went back to living with her parents, and it wasn’t until 13 years later that she met the man she was to marry… Andrew Bogdanich.

She said, “I was in the same neighborhood as Andrew,” 

“One day, I was out walking my dog when he stopped by his vehicle and asked me if we could go to Ice Cream. Even though I was only in my 30s, he asked me if I wanted to go for Ice cream. I replied that I’d have to talk with my mom. The rest of the story is now history thanks to her blessing,” she laughed.

In 1959, the couple got married and gave birth to their son Nicholas in 1962. Andrew died in 2017 and they remained together.

Josephine contracted covid last May, during the pandemic. Everyone feared that she would not make it. Yet again she showed her resilience.

“I was in hospital,” she said. 

“I believed God was telling me that I should make it. And if God didn’t, I made preparations to travel. However, it was not my time. I’m still here a year-and-a-half later.

Dubbed Operation HerStory, the group trip transported female veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit to the Vietnam Women's War Memorial in the National Mall as well and the Military Women's Memorial in Arlington

Dubbed Operation HerStory, the group trip transported female veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit to the Vietnam Women’s War Memorial in the National Mall as well and the Military Women’s Memorial in Arlington

In testimony to her age she revealed that she still has an evocative memory from when she was around three or four years old, when the Spanish Flu Pandemic hit and people were wearing masks in the streets.

It is also possible to recall the very first time that she rode in an automobile. 

She said that she was seven years old when I needed to get dental work done. “We didn’t have a car and my dad didn’t want me to take a streetcar home. Keep in mind that there wasn’t Novocain back then. So he borrowed an automobile, a Model A Auburn from a relative. 

“I can remember riding back in style and feeling like a princess, as I waved at the neighbours.”  

Josephine admitted that the last two years have been hard. 

Her home at Veterans Home kept her in isolation, thus preventing them from visiting each other and meeting up in their common spaces. She was also prohibited from having visitors for one year. Nick was unable to communicate with her via telephone.

She recalled, “I am not going to pretend it wasn’t lonely.” ‘I’m not much of a reader or TV watcher – although I do enjoy watching Wheel of Fortune. 

“So, to pass the time, I would sit alone in my bedroom and look out the window. And think about better times. It was my family that I kept in mind, along with the moment my siblings and me surprised my parents and brought home leave. 

“And I remember falling in love” with my husband. It was our wedding and I still remember the birth of my son. It made me feel happy to take a trip down the memory lane.

Josephine is active today and always looking for adventure. 

She said, “Whether it’s going on a trip with a group to Walmart or bowling in hallways, playing Bingo, or fishing in front of the pond, I’m up for it.” “I am so grateful.”