The nation’s oldest woman veteran has died. She was 108.
Lucy Coffey was found dead in her bed in San Antonio Thursday morning. Her friend, Queta Marquez of the Bexar County Veterans Service Office said Coffey had been sick for about a week and had a chronic cough.
“It is with great sadness we learned that our beloved Ms. Lucy Coffey, our nation's oldest female veteran who served in WWII, passed away,” Marquez said in a Facebook post. “She was an incredible lady who will be missed dearly. Her contributions to our country and community will never be forgotten.”
The Indiana-born farm girl was working at a Dallas A&P supermarket on the day Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The San Antonio Express-News reports she quit her job in 1943 and joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.
During her service she was stationed around the Pacific and earned two Bronze stars. She continued to serve her country after the war as an Army civilian on Okinawa.
“When Vice President Biden and I had the honor of meeting Sgt. Coffey at the White House last year, she was America’s olding living woman veteran, and it was clear that the passage of time never dampened her patriotic love of country or her pioneering spirit,” President Obama said in a statement Friday.
The Express said Coffey met Biden and Obama as part of a final visit she wanted to make to Washington. A group in Austin organized her all-expenses-paid honor flight. In Washington she visited the World War II memorial, Arlington Cemetery and the Women’s Memorial.
“I’d like to go to see things that are there that were not there before,” she told the paper, explaining why she wanted to go. “It’s been a long time since I’ve in in Washington, but I would like to go to see the things that are there.”
Funeral arrangements were incomplete. There were plans to hold a memorial service in San Antonio.
The Express said only one other vet was older than Coffey, Richard Overton of Texas was born three days before her in May 1906.
Coffey suffered a stroke in 2013. She was confined to a wheelchair and needed oxygen to breathe.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.