Love of country, love of family honored on Veterans Day

Published: Nov. 11, 2020 at 10:48 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) The stories that are often associated with Veterans Day can be tough to tell. They’re often stories of suffering.

But a 97-year-old Sioux Falls woman has a story to tell about her military service and what came of it that went beyond love of country.

War stories, a lot of time, focus on the hatred that can come with conflict. The battles of opposing sides. How many were injured and how many were killed.

Like all of us a 97-year-old Sioux Falls woman honors the sacrifices that veterans have made in the name of our country.

But the story of her service is compelling for much different reasons.

“You have to get training for no matter where you were going to be placed. It was all the same.” In 1943, Rosalie White of Portsmouth, Ohio joined up with the United States Navy. It was the height of World War Two and with her business background, she found herself serving at a makeshift air base at Bunker Hill, Indiana. “It was strictly a training base for cadets and all the officers were pilots.”

It was a rule at Bunker Hill that office staff not date officers. Rosalie decided she was OK to break that rule after she met an officer from Massachusetts. A flight instructor named Kenneth.

“He knew I was the one and I wasn’t quite sure but he convinced me.” said Rosalie.

Two years of the midst of the greatest war in the history of the world...a tough and dramatic time.

But by fall of 1945 the war was over. Kenneth decided he wanted a discharge from the service. But before Rosalie could be discharged they had some business they wanted to take care of.

“We went to the captain and he granted us a three day pass and we went to Indianapolis, Indiana and we were married.” said Rosalie.

We’ve left something out here that will provide you with a little more context and appreciation for this story.

White was Rosalie’s maiden name. Her married name, Kenneth’s last name, is Ovenden.

97-year-old Rosalie Ovenden moved to sioux falls five years ago....finding herself in the same city as one of her sons and his family. Her son....Mark Ovenden.

“Veterans Day has a very special place in my heart for sure.” said Mark.

Rosalie Ovenden was one of a handful of women who worked at that air base in Bunker Hill, Indiana. A couple of years ago when Rosalie went on an Honor Flight to Washington she was one of two women.

“She has always been sort of a groundbreaker and always will be.” said Mark.

Kenneth Ovenden passed away more than a decade and a half ago. He died one day after he and Rosalie’s 59th wedding anniversary.

“Wasn’t long enough. He was a wonderful man.” said Rosalie.

The World War Two generation is called the greatest generation. Rosalie and Kenneth prove why that is...when their love of country turned into love for another.....teaching us all a lesson that better days can come from very tough times.

Rosalie and Kenneth had three children, Mark is the youngest.

In addition there are five grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

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