World War II Navy Nurse Celebrates Her 101st Birthday at NWA Veterans Home


Birthdays are typically a reason to celebrate those we love. However a Northwest Arkansas female veteran’s special day stands out from a normal celebration for multiple reasons, including a major milestone beyond the century mark.

“I can’t believe I’m 101 years old,” retired United States Navy Chief Petty Officer Mabel Thomsen declared with a smile on her face. 

Thomsen has seen things many of us cannot even imagine. Though this day is one she did not imagine happening, herself.

“I’ll never forget this day,” Thomsen offered to the crowd standing around her. 

The former Navy nurse got a special birthday visit from U.S. Senator John Boozman on Friday at the Arkansas State Veterans Home in Fayetteville. The Senator pointed out just how rare women like Thomsen are, to have served in the Armed Forces during her era. Boozman says, today, women make up about 17 to 18 percent of all military service members.

“Back in the old days, that wasn’t true,” Boozman explained. “So she truly was a trailblazer in many, many different ways.”

She served in multiple wars that include World War II, the Korean War and the Viet Nam War. The local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter presented the Navy vet with a special blanket honoring her military service. Boozman has made it a point to seek out distinguished service members, like Thomsen, and celebrate them.

“It’s just so good for all of us, just to take a second and recognize special people like this and give them a pat on the back,” Boozman said. 

Thomsen is proud of her 20 year career in the Navy. But she says this day marks one of her favorite memories, even if it is a new one.

“This was the greatest of all,” Thomsen admitted. 

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