100-Year-Old WWII Vet Receives Cherokee Nation’s ‘Medal of Patriotism’

A 100-year-old veteran was recently honored by the Cherokee Nation for her service in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps during World War II.

Winifred “Freddie” Dudley of Owasso, Oklahoma, was presented with the Medal of Patriotism by Cherokee Nation officials along with two other veterans at the August meeting of the Council of the Cherokee Nation earlier this month, on Claremore Daily Progress reported.

While serving in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps, Dudley — whose last name was Whelchel at the time — was part of the air transport and command that primarily transported troops and blood plasma to various bases across the states. States, according to 2 News.

The Cherokee citizen held many different jobs during her service in the military, including as a clerk, military postwoman, and chaplain’s assistant. She was stationed at several Army bases across the country, including five different states.

After being released in 1945, Winifred met her husband, Jess Dudley, who was also a World War II veteran and served in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. Together they had five children, according to Cherokee Phoenix. They were married for 70 years before his death.

In 2010, Dudley made his first honor flight in Washington, DC. After returning from her trip, she helped launch an Honor Flight program in Tulsa, allowing many veterans to tour the nation’s capital for free, 2 News reported.

At the council meeting, she was referred to as a “Cherokee warrior,” and while accepting her award, she honored her heritage and expressed her gratitude to God.

“My great-grandmother came down the trail of tears,” Dudley said as she accepted her award. “I’m just grateful to be part of the Cherokee Nation. We serve a great God. He will never leave us or forsake us. He will take care of me. I don’t care if I’m 100.

During the ceremony, it was also announced that Dudley would receive another honor known as the Patriotism Award later in the year.

Last month, Dudley turned 100, which was celebrated by family and friends at a surprise birthday party.

You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.


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