America’s Oldest Known Veteran, Emma Didlake, Dies at 110

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with the oldest living woman veteran, 110-year-old Emma Didlake in the Oval Office of the White House on July 17, 2015 in Washington, D.C.

The nation’s oldest known veteran, Emma Didlake, died Sunday, a month after meeting President Obama in the White House. She was 110.

Didlake, an African American housewife who joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1943, fell ill Sunday morning and suddenly died.

Her granddaughter, Marilyn Horne, said she had complained of feeling tired over the past few days, and had showed signs of failing over the weekend.
“It was a month ago today that we went to the White House, a month ago today,” said Horne, 62, of Farmington Hills, a Detroit suburb. “I think she felt she had accomplished everything and could take her rest.”

Didlake met Obama on July 17, marking the second time an elderly woman veteran of the war had talked with the president at the White House.

Lucy Coffey, a 108-year-old San Antonio veteran of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, met last year with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

She died March 19.

With the deaths of Coffey and Didlake, the oldest known veteran of the war is Richard Overton, a Bastrop County native. He was born three days before Coffey in May 1906.

Like Didlake, he, too, is black. Both stepped into roles that had been reserved for white men in a highly segregated society.

“I didn’t know I was breaking barriers,” said Didlake, who turned 110 on March 13 and received more than 250 birthday cards. “But I enjoyed doing what I was doing because I had committed myself to do just this.”

“Emma Didlake served her country with distinction and honor, a true trailblazer for generations of Americans who have sacrificed so much for their country. I was humbled and grateful to welcome Emma to the White House last month, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to Emma’s family, friends, and everyone she inspired over her long and quintessentially American life.” said President Obama

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