Last Navy and Woman WWI Vets Die, Only Three Remain
There are but three known American World War I veterans left alive, after two recent deaths.
Brown died Thursday at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home in St. Mary’s County, according to family and the U.S. Naval District in Washington.
His death comes days after the death of the last known surviving American female World War I veteran, Charlotte L. Winters, 109. The deaths leave three known survivors who served in the Army, and a fourth who lives in Washington state but served in the Canadian army, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
More on Mrs. Winters from the March 29 edition of the Baltimore Sun:
In 1916, Charlotte L. Winters called on the secretary of the Navy and asked why women weren’t allowed to enlist. A year later, she had begun her military career. This week, Mrs. Winters – the nation’s oldest female military veteran – died in her sleep at the Fahrney-Keedy life care community in Boonsboro. She was 109.
“She is the last female World War I veteran,” American Legion spokeswoman Ramona E. Joyce said yesterday.
With Mrs. Winters’ death, there are only four surviving U.S. veterans from the “war to end all wars,” according to the Scripps Howard News Service, which tracks living veterans of that war. Since the beginning of the year, six – including Mrs. Winters on Tuesday – have died.
The former Charlotte L. Barry was born Nov. 10, 1897, in Washington, the daughter of a haberdasher. Raised in Washington, she was a 1915 graduate of the Washington Business High School.
In 1916, in the midst of the war, she paid her historic visit to Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels. “She convinced him that women could be in the Navy, and her visit is corroborated in his journals. While he did not admit that she directly influenced him, he did acknowledge that they had met,” said a niece, Kelly N. Auber of Middle River.
After meeting with top Navy brass, Daniels discovered there were no existing regulations prohibiting women from serving. “A year went by before she and her sister, Sophie Bean, joined the Navy,” Mrs. Auber said. They were designated yeoman 3rd class (F), the (F) being for female. “The only restrictions were they couldn’t be sent overseas or into battle,” Mrs. Auber said. “Over 10,000 women joined [the Navy] by 1918.”
There’s no great tragedy in the passing of people who lived full lives, let alone centenarians. Still, we’re approaching the end of this era. Wikipedia has a list of all known WWI vets, separated by country. Of those serving in the American military, Frank Woodruff Buckles, born 2 February 1901, is the only one who actually served in theater. J. Russell Coffey and Harry Richard Landis were both still in training when the Armistice was signed.
Indeed, the number of surviving World War II veterans–and that war ended 27 years later–is dwindling fast.