LAPORTE | Nothing has stopped Betty Hull from living life to the fullest — not even when her plane was shot down by the Japanese during World War II.
Now 91, her zeal was shown again — this time on the back of a motorcycle, a ride that was her dying wish.
"That's Betty," said Carl Galloway, senior pastor at LaPorte Missionary Church, where Hull was hugged and greeted by members of her congregation as she pulled into the parking midway through her ride.
"I'm anxious. I can't wait," said Hull just before hopping on the back seat of a three-wheel motorcycle owned and driven by LaPorte police Officer Bill Bunton.
They were given a police escort by Officer Karl Jackson from Settler's House, a nursing home where Hull has lived since 2009.
The perky Hull still has shrapnel in her left leg from when her plane as a flight nurse for the Army Air Corps was shot down and crashed into a jungle, where she survived four days before rescued.
She also saved the lives many wounded soldiers during the war, often going out where they were injured and bringing them back to the medical clinic set up at the camp.
Once, she removed a gun from a Japanese soldier, a firearm that she still has in her possession, she said.
Among her military honors are the Bronze Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Hull said courage is something she was taught while growing up on a farm south of Rolling Prairie.
"The Lord has been with me, and he's been riding on my back for many years," Hull said.
Hull went on after the war to work as a surgical nurse at LaPorte Hospital for 42 years and later delivered pizzas for nine years, mostly in her 80s.
She even found time to obtain a license to fly and was a pilot for Federal Express part time when she could fit that into her schedule at the hospital.
Her wish was made possible by Heartland Hospice of South Bend and Settler's House, whose director, Angie Bunton, is married to the officer who drove Hull around the city.
"She's got a heart of gold," said Becky Swathwood, a registered nurse at the home, where residents and staff broke out into applause and shouted, "We love you, Betty!" before she departed.
"I still keep busy," said Hull, who is helping the staff take care of her roommate, Jessie Lee, whom she has known for 78 years.
Swathwood said Hull is in hospice with a heart condition but could have months or even a few more years to live.
"She's one determined lady," Galloway said.