A 110-year-old woman believed to be the nation’s oldest veteran is preparing to visit Washington on an honorary trip that includes meeting President Barack Obama. There’s just one glitch: She wants a jacket to wear with her official trip T-shirt, because she doesn’t have “Michelle Obama arms.”
Emma Didlake, a longtime Detroit resident and veteran of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps during World War II, is scheduled to leave Friday. The visit is being arranged by Talons Out Honor Flight, a southwest Michigan chapter of a national nonprofit that provides free, one-day trips for veterans to visit Washington’s monuments and memorials.
Didlake is especially excited to see the memorial honoring her other favorite president, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Known to family as “Big Mama,” Didlake was a 38-year-old wife and mother of five when she “wanted to do something different” and signed up for the WAAC in 1943, said her granddaughter, Marilyn Horne. She served stateside for about seven months during the war, as a private and driver.
After she was discharged, she and her family moved to Detroit in 1944 — and she quickly joined the local NAACP chapter. She marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963, and received a lifetime achievement award two years ago from the chapter.