• Blochberger from long-time Leavenworth family

  • Lt. Col. Irene C. Blochberger is the only military woman, and one of only three Leavenworth High School graduates, memorialized on Fort Leavenworth.

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  • Quentin Schillare | Special to the Fort Leavenworth Lamp
    The people behind the place-names on Fort Leavenworth are an interesting lot, ranging from a teenage Girl Scout to crusty old generals. Although some of those commemorated are well known iconic figures such as Grant, Eisenhower, Patton and Marshall, most are little known today regardless of their considerable renown among their contemporaries. The majority of the place-names for the streets, buildings, and other features commemorate Army officers, mostly white men.
    Recently, as if to make up for a certain lack of attention to their contributions to Army life in the past, noncommissioned officers, women and African-Americans have been represented. Ironically, this trend has resulted in not one, but two, commemorations for some recent namesakes: Hastings Road and Hastings House (named for Girl Scout Virginia M. Hastings); Lee House and Lee Hall (named for Pvt. Fitz Lee, a Buffalo Soldier); and Blochberger Terrace and Blochberger Avenue.
    Lt. Col. Irene C. Blochberger is the only military woman, and one of only three Leavenworth High School graduates, memorialized on Fort Leavenworth. (For the record, the other two LHS graduates are Brig. Gen. Charles H. Barth, class of 1876, and Capt. Patrick K. Harrold, class of 1963.)
    Irene Blochberger was from an old Leavenworth family. She graduated from Leavenworth High School in 1929 and St. John Hospital School of Nursing in Leavenworth in 1932. After graduation she was a nurse with the Civilian Conservation Corps district headquarters on Fort Leaven- worth from 1934 to 1937. She joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1937 and served on Fort Leavenworth until 1940 in the post hospital, then in building 198 (now Lowe Hall, the Resiliency Center).
    She was stationed in several combat hospitals overseas in War II, including 26 months at Fort Richardson, Anchorage, Alaska. Being stationed in Alaska must have been interesting. On July 2, 1943, she survived a military aircraft accident at Nome Airfield, when a C-47 in which she was a passenger ran off a runway attempting to land. Blochberger served in the Philippines in 1945 and transferred to Japan after the surrender as part of the Army of occupation. She stayed in Japan until 1947.
    Blochberger served at the 98th General Hospital in occupied Munich, Germany, from 1948-51. After Germany she was stationed in California, Texas and Louisiana. Her last duty station was Fort Carson, Colo., where she was the chief nurse at Evans Army Hospital. Blochberger died in 1958 at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital, Aurora, Colo., after a long illness. She is buried in the family plot in Mount Muncie Cemetery in Leavenworth.
    In 1963, two things were named for her — Blochberger Avenue, a short street that runs north-south between Kearny Avenue and Munson Army Health Center, and Blochberger Terrace apartments on Kearny Avenue. An article on the upcoming dedication ceremony for Blochberger Hall from the May 13, 1963, Leavenworth Times reported that the street and associated buildings were named through the efforts of Barbara Rideout of DeRidder, La., who served with Blochberger at Camp Polk, La., in 1953 and became her friend. On hearing of the death, Rideout wrote the Army Surgeon General requesting that a hospital be named for Blochberger. Because the new post hospital at Fort Leavenworth was already named at its 1961 dedication, the post memorial committee selected the two buildings used as nurse’s quarters and the nearby street as a memorial.
    Page 2 of 2 - The sign in front of Blochberger Terrace misspells her last name as Blockberger. The sign painters at the Directorate of Public Works should not be too embarrassed, they follow an old tradition. Irene Blochberger’s name in the June Bug, the Leavenworth High School yearbook of 1929, is also spelled with a “k” instead of an “h.”
    For information on his book: Fort Leavenworth: The People Behind the Names, visit here.
    For the 1st installment of the People Behind Post Places series, visit here.
    For the 2nd installment of the People Behind Post Places series, visit here.
    For the 3rd installment of the People Behind Post Places series, visit here.
    For the 4th installment of the People Behind Post Places series, visit here.
    For the 5th installment of the People Behind Post Places series, visit here.
    For the 6th installment of the People Behind Post Places series, visit here.
    For the 7th installment of the People Behind Post Places series, visit here.
    For the 8th installment of the People Behind Post Places series, visit here.
    For the 9th installment of the People Behind Post Places series, visit here.
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