Oldest US World War Two veteran dies aged 110, Just Weeks After Meeting President Obama

The oldest US World War Two veteran has died aged 110 years old.

Emma Didlake met with President Barack Obama just a few weeks ago in July and had pictures taken with him in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C.

Emma became known as ‘Big Mama’ and her granddaughter said that after meeting President Obama she thinks Emma felt as if she had done everything she had wanted to in her life.

The trip to Washington was part of an Honour Flight that Emma was taking in commemoration of 70 years since the end of World War Two.

When President Obama learned that Emma had passed away he said that she had served her country and was a trailblazer for generations to come in the Armed Forces. He also said that he was glad to have met Emma before she passed away, whilst sending his condolences to her family.

Emma was born into a huge family, as one of 15 children in Alabama. She was born in a town called Boligee in 1905, and later moved to Kentucky.

By the age of 17, Emma was married and went on to have a family of five children. It was when war broke out in 1939, and then America entered the war in 1941, that she wanted to help the war effort. The majority of women were staying at home to look after their families and to continue the work back at home, but Emma bucked this trend, as well as battling racism and segregation because of her African American background.

Emma joined the Armed Forces and travelled the world as part of her service. She received the Women’s Army Corps Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal, and the World War Two Victory Medal.

When the war ended, Emma became a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and even marched with Martin Luther King in a demonstration in Detroit, the ABC News reports.

Emma said that she had been able to live to such a ripe old age because she had always eaten very healthily, including fruits and vegetables and not a lot of meat in her diet. She also attributes her long life to eating a few raisins every afternoon, which had been left to soak in gin the night before.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE