Nation's oldest female veteran, 108-year-old Lucy Coffey, fulfills her dream
Visit to Washington, D.C. includes meeting with Obama and Biden
By Meredith Tibbetts
Stars and Stripes
Published: July 26, 2014
Lucy Coffey, the oldest living female veteran at the age of 108, does a little dance at the Women's Memorial in Virginia on July 26, 2014.
WASHINGTON — Lucy Coffey, at age 108 the nation's oldest living female military veteran, dreamed of going to the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington, Va. This weekend she got her wish ... and then some.
Coffey was greeted with thunderous applause on Friday at Reagan National Airport, and was then welcomed to the White House by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Though Coffey — who was part of the Women's Army Corps during World War II — did not walk on this trip and cannot speak, she was actively engaging with the people around her.
Staff Sgt. Lucy Coffey enlisted in 1943, around the time of her 37th birthday. She had tried to enlist several times before that, but was rejected for being too short or too slim. Donning extra weights on her legs, she passed the weight minimum of 100 pounds.
While in the Women's Army Corps, she earned two Bronze Stars, a WAC Service Medal, a Good Conduct Medal and a World War II Victory Medal. Coffey was one of 150,000 women who served as WACs during the war.
WAC members have a unique place in history as the first females besides nurses to serve within the ranks of the U.S. Army.
Coffey served mainly in the Pacific Theater, going to Australia and Dutch New Guinea before finally arriving in the Philippines in April 1945 during the Luzon Campaign. Her last stop was at Okinawa, Japan.
While in the Army, she worked as an accountant-statistician, and served in the procurement office.
Coffey was honorably discharged in November, 1945, but stayed in Japan as a civil servant. She later transferred to Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, where she worked until her retirement in 1971.
Though Coffey dreamed of going back to Japan, she never did. But she was able to go to the women's memorial at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday. She smiled at the old uniforms, and listened intently as she was wheeled around the memorial.
Earlier in the day, Coffey visited the National World War II Memorial, where she met former Sen. Bob Dole and Texas Sen. John Cornyn. http://www.stripes.com/news/us/nation-s-oldest-female-veteran-108-year-old-lucy-coffey-fulfills-her-dream-1.295422