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Oklahoman loses U.S.' oldest female Marine veteran


Gazette staff August 30th, 2007

The United States' oldest female veteran of the Marines " an Oklahoma woman " died in Owasso this August.   Ninety-seven-year-old Maye Ryan passed away Aug. 13, following a brief hospital st...

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The United States' oldest female veteran of the Marines " an Oklahoma woman " died in Owasso this August.

 

Ninety-seven-year-old Maye Ryan passed away Aug. 13, following a brief hospital stay after she broke her hip in a fall, according to the Tulsa World.

 

Born May 18, 1910, in Red Oak, she graduated from high school in Wewoka, and, after attending college in Wilburton, became a teacher. She was her parents' only child, and the World reported she dipped into her paycheck to help them make ends meet during the Depression. (Hmm, CFN wonders, what was teacher pay like back then?)

 

Then, in 1943, with World War II raging, the Marine Corps Women's Reserve was established. Ryan joined up, part of its first class.

 

For almost three years, she served as a typist in Mojave, Calif., before being discharged as a colonel. She told the World in an April interview that the women Marines faced challenging attitudes from male colleagues, many of whom referred to the newbies by less-than-flattering names. But, eventually, Ryan told the newspaper, the women were accepted.

 

Despite all that, Ryan apparently remained fiercely loyal to the branch: "I had no use for those other branches of service," she told the World in April. (Semper fidelis, indeed, eh?) And, she took pride in taking care of herself, the newspaper noted.

 

"She only recently applied for veteran's benefits " 50 years after she had qualified for them," the World reported, "and she applied for Medicaid 30 years after she qualified for that program."

 

CFN isn't too surprised. That Maye Ryan must have had gumption.

 
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