President Barack Obama smiles with Emma Didlake, the oldest known World War II veteran at 110 years old, in the the Oval Office of the White House. Didlake was a Private during the course of her service and her decorations include the Women’s Army Corps Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, and World War II Victory Medal
President Obama met with a 110-year-old woman believed to be the nation’s oldest veteran at the White House Friday. The president said it was a “great honor” to speak with Emma Didlake, a longtime Detroit resident and veteran of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps during World War II. “It’s a great reminder of not only the sacrifices that the greatest generation made on our behalf but also the kind of trailblazing that our women veterans made,” Mr. Obama told reporters. “We are so grateful that she is here with us today.”
Known to family as “Big Mama,” Didlake was a 38-year-old wife and mother of five when she “wanted to do something different” and signed up for the WAAC in 1943, said her granddaughter, Marilyn Horne. She served stateside for about seven months during the war, as a private and driver. After she was discharged, she and her family moved to Detroit in 1944 – and she quickly joined the local NAACP chapter. She marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963, and received a lifetime achievement award two years ago from the chapter.