This page was last updated on 15 February 2016.
Hopefully you are listening to "Wind Beneath My Wings" from the movie Beaches.
This page honors some of the women I have known who have passed on. Be sure to visit IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN, 11 SEP 01, OKC, DESERT STORM, VIETNAM and EARLIER WARS to see the women who died serving our country.
Margaret "Peg" Millington, 84, passed away. She was born in Troy, NY and lived in Loudonville, NY. Peg graduated from Catholic Central High School in Troy and then served in the Air Force during the Korean War as a flight attendant in the Continental Division of MATS. I first met her in the 70s at softball games in our area and later learned she shared a home with one of my friends who I served with and kept in touch with all these years, Peggy Pierce. Peg also worked for the NY Telephone Company followed by NYNEX for a total of 42 years. She is survived by Peggy as well as many nieces, nephews and friends.
SSG Cathy Oatman, USA (Ret), 77, of Pinellas Park, FL passed away in her home. She had been ill for many years. Cathy served from March 66 to 75. Since I knew Cathy I will post more information in the coming days as arrangements are made. This photo shows Cathy on the left, me and Linda "Scooter" Watson--it was taken in August 2001 at the WAC Convention that was held in Orlando, FL. Cathy originally from Windber, PA was the youngest of twelve children to Frank and Mabel Oatman all of whom are deceased. Cathy enlisted in the Womens Army Corps in March 1966 and trained at Ft McClellan, AL. She was stationed at Ft Shafter, HI from 1967 to 1969. From there Cathy went to Vietnam where she was stationed in Long Binh and Saigon from February 1969 to May 1972. In í72 she was assigned to Ent Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, CO. In 1974 Cathy moved to Gainesville, FL to work with the Recruiting Command. From there she went to Recruiting Group in Pensacola, then she worked at the Reserve Center in Ft Jackson, SC. Her final assignment was in Brewton, AL in 1975 where she was medically retired after nine years serving her country. She began her career as a clerk but held several other positions including Data Processing Analyst, Senior Administration Sergeant and Chief Statistical Analyst. While in Hawaii and Vietnam, Cathy handled all the payroll and leaves for the personnel assigned in SouthEast Asia. She had reached the rank of Staff Sergeant. During her nine years of service she received the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, MAC-V and RADCOM medals as well as a Certificate of Service for 1 March 68 to 1 October 70 and the MAC-V Joint Service Command Medal. She is also the recipient of the Order of the Silver Rose Award. While Cathy was stationed in Vietnam she also volunteered at a local orphanage on her days off. She fell in love with one of the babiesóa boy. She went through the process to adopt him and named him Kevin. And then she became attached to a little girl. Cathy requested for her tour to be extended until she could adopt her second child who she named Kim. She brought them home to the United States with her. Cathy was a trailblazer during her time when adopting her children in Vietnam being a single woman, as there were no rules in place that she could not adopt as a single woman and no one told her no! She was in Vietnam a total of 3 years. She had been a member of the Vietnam Women Veterans Inc., Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, Womens Army Corps Veteran Association and the Order of the Silver Rose. Cathy and Linda were legally married in Calgary, Canada on 25 July 2005 and before that had a Holy Union on 15 Feb 2003 at King of Peace Metropolitan Community Church in St. Petersburg, FL. Cathy had been ill for many years due to complications from her exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. She is survived by her wife Linda Watson; her children Kevin Oatman, of Sarasota and Kim (Oatman) Walker of Zephyr Hills; as well as Lindaís two daughters Crystal Watson and her fiancť Joseph Lee of Seminole, FL and Tonya Watson, of Madisonville, KY; two grandchildren Josiah age 7 of, Madisonville, KY and Tatiana age 4 of Seminole and many, nieces and nephews. Cathy is interred at the Bay Pines National Cemetery with full military honors.
Cindy Dumont, 56, of Manchester, NH passed away at 0430 this day. I have known her since the 1980s and was with her when one of her daughters died in a car accident. RIP Cindy.
Sadly another woman I had come to know has also passed away. Rose Ora Stewart was originally from Indianapolis, IN but had been living in the Glens Falls and Lake George area of NY since 1986. She and her partner Diana owned cabins and cottages in Lake George that were rented out to tourists year round. Rose had joined the Navy, learned a lot about computer systems from another woman who eventually became ADM Grace Hopper, and then Rose retired from the Navy Reserve after a combination of 22 years of service. She was one of the women I interviewed for a documentary being done by a local film maker as well as for me to put her Naval history in print. She was having hearing loss and devoted herself to helping others with their disability.
I met Shirley Frances (Sears) Melvin at a WACVA Convention years ago. We corresponded several times and I included her in Women At Risk. So many of the women I interviewed were up in age and I lost contact with many of them. Being a WAC though I usually knew of who passed on because their notices were placed in our memberships newsletter. But in August 2012 I received a note from her daughter Maureen that Shirley had died the previous year. Maureen found Shirley's typed notes to me but didn't know what they were for. She wondered if Shirley knew her story was published. I checked and found the address to which a copy of my book was sent and provided that information to Maureen. She was proud of the things her mother accomplished.
USA SGT Mary Margaret (Schisler) Salm, of Nashville, TN passed away after suffering a stroke the previous Thursday in her apartment. I met Margaret online quite a few years ago and then in person in 1999. She was interviewed for my book Women At Risk. Margaret enlisted in the WAAC in February 1943 as a private and trained at Fort Oglethorpe, GA. When the WAAC became the WAC she was sworn in once again. Following training she was assigned to Stockton Field, CA where she did many jobs but became proficient in Teletype so she could go overseas. She returned to Ft Oglethorpe for more training, then Camp Shanks, NY before deploying to London where she was stationed with the 131st Army Airways Communication System Squadron. Margaret was in London for more than a year and endured V-2 bombings from the Germans. She was discharged from the WAC in November 1945 as a sergeant. Her service didn't stop there as she became a volunteer with other groups and a historian. Although she was a WAC Margaret spent many years heavily involved with the WAVES unit that was located in Nashville and had been their Newsletter Editor for many years. She had been married to a Veteran but John Salm passed away in 1990. She will be cremated and buried with her husband in the Nashville National Cemetery. Here are two photos Margaret donated to me for my book so you can see what she looked like during WW II and in 1999.
Retired USA BG Mildred (Inez Caroon) Bailey, 90, died following a long illness in Washington, DC. Although she was a French teacher at the time she gave it up and became an officer in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corp in 1942. She had assignments in Florida, Germany, Georgia, Alabama, and Washington, DC but traveled extensively for the Army. I first met her when she came to my hometown area in the early 60s with a traveling WAC Exhibit Unit. She was another reason I chose to join the Army! I met her again many years later when the Army Women's Museum was dedicated at Ft Lee, VA. Her husband Roy Bailey was killed in an auto accident in the 60s. BG Bailey will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery later this year with the full military honors she earned. Special thanks to COL Pat Jernigan, USA (Ret) for providing this information and photo of BG Bailey from 1972.
Retired USAF LTC Virginia Sweet, 88, died in Schenectady, NY. During World War II Virginia joined the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and became a pilot. She flew many types of aircraft including the B-17 Flying Fortress, B-29 Superfortress, P-51 Mustang and many others. After the WASP was disbanded Virginia joined the Air Force and served during the Korean War followed by 30 years with the Air Force Reserve. Upon retirement from the military she continued to instruct others to become pilots at local airports in her hometown area. I interviewed Virginia for "Women At Risk" and have come to be acquainted with her niece Betsey McBride. Virginia will be remembered by many of those she touched.
Retired USA CPT Agnes M. "Irish" Bresnahan, 58, of Windham, NH died after a long illness from chemical exposure while on active duty. Irish attended Presentation of Mary Academy in Methuen, MA and graduated from Trinity College in Burlington, VT on the ROTC program in 1972. She studied at the University of Texas in the post-graduate program. Irish went to Fort McClellan, AL for basic training and served both stateside at Fort Ritchie, MD and in Germany from 1971 until 1977. She received the Army Commendation Medal four times and the National Service Defense Medal twice. After retiring from the Army she worked at the IRS as a computer systems analyst until 2005. She was a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Disabled Veterans of America, the United Female Veterans of America, and the American Legion, among other Veteranís groups. She was a staunch advocate for Veteranís rights. Irish is survived by her long time companion Pamela Sullivan of Windham, NH; mother, Agnes J. Bresnahan of Lawrence, MA; her brothers and sisters; many nieces and nephews; and many friends. Irish can be visited one last time at the Kenneth H. Pollard Funeral Home 233 Lawrence Street in Methuen, MA on Tuesday March 17 from 3:00 until 9:00 P.M. A funeral mass will be held at Saint Monicaís Church, 212 Lawrence Street in Methuen on Wednesday at 10:30 A.M. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Agent Orange Victims and Widows Support Network, Inc., P.O. Box 90, Davenport, FL. 33836 (agentorangequiltoftears.com) or Nam Guardian Angel (namguardianangel.com). Irish passed away after fighting with the VA for years. Right now all I can say is we must all soldier