Oldest WWII vet embodies spirit of 'Year of the NCO'
Gertrude Noone, the oldest surviving World War II veteran at 110 years of age, is greeted by Army Secretary Pete Geren, during a ceremony in honor of Women's History Month and the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer, March 31, 2009, in Milford, Conn. Noone served as a sergeant first class in the Women's Auxiliary Corps, and was recognized as a metaphor for the strength of the NCO corps.

Army Secretary Pete Geren commemorated the ArmyAca,!a,,cs Year of the NCO and WomenAca,!a,,cs History Month by visiting a 110-year-old World War II veteran and enlisting seven future Soldiers by her side in Milford, Conn., on March 31.

Aca,!A"Miss Noone left the Army as a NCO. She has lived a life as part of the history of our country and the history of the Army, and we wanted to present her a token of our appreciation from our Army today,Aca,!A? said Geren as he handed her ceremonial coins and a framed letter signed by himself, the Army Chief of Staff, and the Sergeant Major of the Army.

Gertrude Noone, the nationAca,!a,,cs oldest woman veteran, received the visitors at Carriage Green, the assisted living facility where she lives.

Noone enlisted in the WomenAca,!a,,cs Army Corps (WAC) in 1943 at age 45, leaving a 17-year career with Travelers Insurance to serve the nation in a time of war. She rose to the rank of tech sergeant before leaving the service in 1949. Her final post was Fort Myer, Va., as chief clerk of the ArmyAca,!a,,cs largest dispensary, where she counted among her clientele Gen. Omar Bradley, Gen. George Patton, and First Lady Bess Truman.

Geren likened NooneAca,!a,,cs enlistment during WWII to that of seven future Soldiers who accompanied him on the visit. He quoted Oveta Culp Hobby, the first director of the WAC, saying that by enlisting during wartime they had accepted Aca,!A"a debt to democracy, [and] a date with destiny.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"These young people have made the decision to join the Army in the middle of a war,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"They have made a similar commitment to selfless service for this nation.Aca,!A?

With Noone looking on, the Secretary conducted a ceremonial swearing-in of the future soldiers, all of whom will ship out for training in the next 90 days.

Following the ceremony, Noone met with the new inductees and showed them her original dog tags and a carefully preserved note from her final commander, who praised her devotion to duty and efficient service.

Although the seven future Soldiers are joining the Army for different reasons and will serve in different specialties, they share a common thread: all had been considering military service and approached their recruiters ready to commit, despite the war.

Aca,!A"A friend of mine told me itAca,!a,,cs the best thing heAca,!a,,cs ever done,Aca,!A? said Thomas Greene, 19, of Wallingford, Conn., who will serve as a petroleum supply specialist. Aca,!A"So I had him take me to his recruiter.Aca,!A?

Laura Salinas, 19, of Hamden, Conn., said, Aca,!A"I liked the way the Air Force changed my sister, so I knew I would join the military, but I got the best vibes from the Army recruiters.Aca,!A? She leaves in April to train as a power generation mechanic.

Salinas was one of three female enlistees present, and they paid special homage to Noone following the ceremony.

Aca,!A"SheAca,!a,,cs an inspiration,Aca,!A? Salinas said, Aca,!A"SheAca,!a,,cs everything a woman in the Army should be.Aca,!A?

Marina Gunther, 22, of New Haven, Conn., agreed. Aca,!A"It was emotional for me to be able to thank her for what she accomplished because that made it possible for me to be where I am today.Aca,!A?

Gunther will graduate this spring from the University of New Haven with a degree in criminal justice and will serve as a human intelligence collector.

In remarks after the ceremony the Secretary compared the future Soldiers favorably to NooneAca,!a,,cs Aca,!A"greatest generationAca,!A?.

Aca,!A"Fewer than three out of ten young people in the U.S. today meet the standards to join the Army, Aca,!A"he said. Aca,!A"The young men and women here today are already part of an elite group. They have answered the same call to duty that Miss Noone did over 60 years ago.Aca,!A?

Page last updated Tue March 31st, 2009 at 19:19