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August 21st, 2014

Congressman Honors Oldest Living Woman Veteran

Congressman Chris Gibson recognizes Ruth Millot for her Military service.
RHINEBECK - A 103-year-old Thompson House resident, Ruth Milliot, is the oldest female Marine veteran in the country ­­– an achievement that Congressman Chris Gibson recognized recently.
Hosted by Northern Dutchess Hospital, Gibson presented Milliot with the Women’s Veterans Challenge Coin, given to exceptional veterans to honor their wartime contributions and bravery.

“Ruth Milliot is an extraordinary role model for the people of the Hudson Valley,” said U.S. Rep. Gibson, R-Kinderhook. “Her service in the Marine Corps during World War II helped protect our cherished way of life.”

This particular coin was developed by the Women’s Health Program Leadership of the Veteran Integrated Service Network in upstate New York (or VISN 2). The coin was launched in June to promote the many services women veterans are eligible for, but may not know about, including gender-specific health services at many VA campuses.

“So many of our women don’t see themselves as veterans or as deserving,” said Jane Weber, women’s veterans program manager at the Women’s Wellness Center in Albany. “Not only does the coin express thanks for their service but it informs them of the services available.  These are services they earned and what they deserve.”

During World War II, Milliot was stationed in the Philippines and Hawaii, and kept track of personnel records for wounded Marines.

“Women in the service did whatever work had to be done. They even flew the planes,” Milliot said.  “The women Marines, they were a wonderful bunch.”

A native of Staten Island, Milliot was born on Oct. 22, 1910, was college educated, and worked as social worker for New York City’s social services department. Because of the war, in 1943, she decided to enlist in the Marines because, “They are the best, top-notch,” she said. She was promoted Aug. 1, 1944 to staff sergeant and was discharged Jan. 18, 1946.

About her time in Oahu, in a letter to her family she wrote, “Yes we do feel closer to war down here – there is evidence on every side. Air raid shelters – and good ones too – dot the parks, school grounds and vacant lots.

“Barbed wire is all too plentiful … but nature and the true spirit of Hawaii do their bit to help beautify the army’s barbed handiwork. One day I saw a curly-haired, bronze-skinned Hawaiian husky of about 15 years nonchalantly twisting bright red hibiscus blooms through the barbed wire.”

About training camp, she wrote in a diary written with a typewriter, “It was the 15th of July 1943 and overcast when I left my home at approximately 9 a.m. carrying a heavy suitcase and my nifty, new raincoat, which had been a going away gift from the gang.”

She was on her way to catch a train from Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan to Washington D.C., where one of her first military tasks was to be outfitted in Marine garments.

“Getting our uniforms was quite a procedure,” her yellowing diary pages read.

The women were marched into the department and loaded with two winter and three summer uniforms. Then they stood before a fitter, who made adjustments “in a wink of an eye and told us to shove off,” she wrote.

About the immunizations that came next, she wrote, “My tough constitution took the jabs without any ill effects.”

Eventually, Milliot and her late husband Douglas decided to retire in Rhinebeck after reading a news advertisement for a scenic property for sale – a cottage with a stream surrounded by farmland.

“When you retire you want to live in the country,” said Milliot, who now resides at the Thompson House, a Health Quest affiliate.

To this day, Milliot wears Marine Corps. T-shirts, with the motto that she lives by: “Semper Fi” or always faithful.

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