108 year old female Veteran, Lucy Coffey: A true icon for female soldiers


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Lucy Coffey’s dream of visiting Washington, D.C. came true this weekend. The 108-year-old San Antonio native arrived with an Honor Flight from Austin Friday night. Her goal was to see, one last time, the memorials dedicated to her generation’s service and sacrifice during World War II.

As a rising junior at the United States Military Academy at West Point, I was immensely honored and excited to cover Lucy’s visit to D.C. After all, we future generations of soldiers learn the most about the military by hearing the stories of our Veterans.

It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon when I met Lucy at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. She arrived with family members and an entourage of volunteers from the Bexar County Veterans Service Office who assisted her withevery move. A stroke about a year ago limited her mobility and the oxygen tube she used hindered her ability to speak, but she still gave me an enthusiastic nod when I asked if she was enjoying her visit.

Quickly escorted into the memorial, the frail yet energetic Veteran attended a private tour and a small ceremony and received tokens of appreciation from members of the Women’s Memorial Foundation. As I looked over the different sections of the memorial, I couldn’t help but wonder what it must have been like for a woman to be in the service during her time.

In 1943, Lucy was living in Dallas when she answered the call to join the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in the middle of World War II. In a time when female servicemembers were perceived differently than today, the petite South Texan served with distinction. She was present during the Luzcon campaign and was later awarded the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with a bronze star.

Lucy was discharged from the WAAC on Nov. 11, 1945, as a sergeant; however, the Army accountant and statistician stayed in Japan well past her honorable discharge. She was later transferred to the Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, where she retired 13years later.

Like Lucy, I’m entering my military career during a transitional period for females in the armed services. While generations of women have joined the military, the opening of combat arms for females in 2016 has created its own controversy. Looking at Lucy I knew that if it weren’t for her and the other women who took the initiative to join the WAAC and step up to the challenge, women today might not even be able to contest the notion that they don’t belong in combat units.

It’s female Veterans, like Lucy, who give me the confidence to say women can excel in combat arms and perform on par with their male counterparts if they choose that path. Female soldiers have shocked society once before. Who’s to say they won’t do it again?

I couldn’t help but thank Lucy for opening the door for future generations of female soldiers, like myself. As she was getting back onto the bus, I wondered if I would ever be able to impact future generations of female soldiers the same way Lucy did when I met her during my summer internship in Washington, D.C.

Also see Oldest Living Female WWII Veteran Welcomed to the White House by the President and Vice President from the White House Joining Forces blog.


jordiLena Jordi Cruzval is visiting the VA as an intern. Lena, a “Puertorriqueña” born and raised in Puerto Rico,  received an appointment  to the Unites States Military Academy on Feb. 14, 2012, straight out of high school. She is currently a rising junior at the Academy and is majoring in Comparative Politics with a focus on Latin America. In addition, she is on the Equestrian Team where she has earned three awards: the DeVito award, CPT (Ret.) Jack Fritz Award, and LTC (Ret.) Robert S. Ballagh Memorial Trophy. Lena is fluent in Spanish and French. She loves to travel and has had the opportunity to visit parts of North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Antarctica.

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Lena Jordi-Cruzval

Comments

  1. Alan Lubke    

    I visited the downtown of my hometown, Farmington, Minnesota wearing my uniform having returned from Vietnam a few weeks earlier. My FHS classmate was staffing the local furniture store. He asked about my medals and I said yes, that’s the Bronze Star. He said, “Oh yes, my Aunt Mary has one of those.” She did, having served on the Eisenhower staff in WWII.

  2. Orianna League    

    RESPECT! You are like heroes you find in Webtoons in for example Tower of God and Noblesse !

  3. Dan Kelley    

    LUCY
    .WHAT A WONDERFUL AND PATRIOTIC AMERICAN . AMERICA IS VERY ,VERY PROUD OF YOU. GOD BLESS YOU AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR SEVICE,
    DAN

    1. Magda    

      Dan, are you married to Maricel?

  4. Anne M. Devney    

    Well done Ladies!!! To Lucy for serving her country with honor and to Lena for doing the same and passing on the good news! All of us female veterans appreciate those ahead of us and those following in our footsteps!

  5. Chelle Weatherspoon    

    This is an amazing person. Thank you for sharing this story.

  6. MG R Felix A Santoni    

    Thank you for this very fine article and for your willingness to serve our country. We are very proud of you and what you have accomplished and certainly feel that you are one of ouo prides and joys.

  7. Cheryl A. Klein    

    I thank you for all you have done for the service woman of this country. You are an awesome leader of the women of our great nation.

  8. Cheryl A. Klein    

    I thank you for your service to our country. I regard you with all respect and thank you for all you have done for this; Our country. God bless you.

  9. Ana Cuebas    

    Thank you for making us proud. You still have a very long road ahead full of tears, smiles, disappointments, successes, injustices, justice and more. But it is not during the good times but rather during those hard times ahead that I beg you to come back to this message, if you ever read it. The song says “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden. Along with the good times, there has to be a little rain some times”. Please, during those hard times you will live, kneel down, if you still have your legs, pray God for his will, accept it humbly and learn how not to be, how not to act with others, how to be a better person. And then command yourself to love yourself and others, even your enemies. It is then, and only then, that you will be able to be another Lucy Coffey. It took her 109 years to find out about the honors paid to her generation. Those were the years God had in her life plan. Others have less time. Doesnt matter. All you need is love. John Lennon.

  10. Ann Marie Roberts    

    THANK YOU LENA FOR YOUR COMMITMENT, SERVICE, AND FOR THE MARVELOUS STORY OF MS. LUCY COFFEY.

    1. mark trifeletti    

      WOW THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE WHAT AN AMAZING WOMEN AT 108 WOW!!!!!!!

  11. Jo Anne (hites) Alderson    

    Would love to ask her if she knew my grandmother Pearl M (Smith) Hites as she also served st thst time and was from San Antonio

  12. Deb joiner    

    Enjoyed the article and encourage women to join the service .

    1. Art Weah Doe    

      I feel so privilege to be a part of history to see a 108 Veteran Lucy celebrates her life long journey during her service to her common patrimony. I am proud of you, Lucy, for standing out to defend this great Country in the World. Thank you so much and God bless the United States of America.

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