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108-year-old veteran honored

November 12, 2005|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - As a Navy clerk during World War I, Charlotte Winters was part of the first large-scale enlistment of women in the U.S. Military.

Winters, who now lives at Farhney-Keedy Memorial Home, is believed to be the oldest veteran living in Washington County, said Michelle Morris, Farhney-Keedy activities director.

The center honored 108-year-old Winters at a Veterans Day ceremony Friday.

There are about 20 war vets living at Fahrney-Keedy, administrators said.

The Disabled American Veterans presented Winters with gifts, which included a snowman figurine and corsage. Retired Army Sgt. Maj. Paul Hammond was the featured speaker.

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"I don't know what we will be saying about this 20 years from now, but freedom does not come cheap," Hammond said in his speech. "When we give blood for freedom, that's a heavy cost. I salute everyone here who was willing to do that."

Born in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 10, 1897, Winters enlisted in the Navy in 1917, at the age of 20. She was among nearly 12,000 female yeomen enlisted. It's unknown how many of them are still living.

Many war memories have faded for Winters. She doesn't talk much about it with family and friends, said Doug Bast, who befriended her 35 years ago.

Military women were limited to clerical work during World War I. Winters worked at a Naval gun factory in Washington D.C., and was discharged in 1919, the year after the Armistice ended the fighting in Europe.

Winters married after she was discharged and moved to South Mountain. She and her husband, Russ Winters, traveled the country visiting historic Civil War sites, Bast said.

She moved to Farhney-Keedy after her husband died.

Bast, who owns the Boonsboro Museum of History, described Winters as warm and modest.

"Everyone was always like 'I want to be like Charlotte,'" he said. "She's always so positive. There should be more people like her."

During the ceremony, he sat next to Winters, who smiled shyly during the speeches.

"I don't know why they're making this big fuss over me," Winters said.

Winters received a medal commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Armistice, according to a Herald-Mail story printed in 1993.

In the story, Winters said the medal was more like costume jewelry than an actual military honor.

Robert Blair, associate chaplain of the DAV Chapter 14, also spoke at the ceremony. He said Winters was the only World War I veteran he knew of in Washington County. He said there was another 108-year-old veteran living in Charles Town, W.Va.

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