SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - Lucy Coffey, the oldest living female U.S. military veteran, has died at the age of 108.
Coffey, who served with the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in the Pacific Theater during World War Two and retired after nearly three decades of military-related service, died on Thursday morning in Texas, the Bexar County Veterans Service Office said.
She was working at an A&P grocery store in Dallas in 1943 when she joined the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, according to her Department of Defense biography.
President Barack Obama, who met Coffey last year at the White House, said on Friday, “it was clear that the passage of time never dampened her patriotic love of country or her pioneering spirit.
“As we remember her life and salute her service, our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends, and loved ones today,” Obama said in a statement.
Coffey served in Japan, New Guinea and the Philippines, where she was promoted to staff sergeant and received the Philippine Liberation Ribbon for service during the Luzon Campaign, according to the Defense Department.
After the war, Coffey remained in the Pacific region, working as an Army civilian in Japan. She then transferred to Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio in 1958, where she worked as an accountant until retiring in 1971. She remained in the San Antonio area.
“Her contributions to our country and community will never be forgotten,” the Bexar County Veterans Service Office said in a statement.
Honor Flight, a group that provides trips to Washington for World War Two veterans, flew Coffey to the nation’s capital last summer to meet Obama.
The WAAC accepted women aged 21 to 45 to fill military support roles and free up more men for combat, according to the U.S. Army. About 400,000 women served in uniform during World War Two, the White House said.
Reporting by Jim Forsyth; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by the Washington Bureau; Editing by Susan Heavey and Eric Beech