Emma Didlake: Army driver in the Second World War who met Barack Obama as the United States' oldest known veteran

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The Independent Online

Emma Didlake, who has died at the age of 110, was believed to be the oldest US veteran. She died a month after meeting President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

Didlake was a 38-year-old wife and mother of five when she signed up in 1943 for the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. She served for about seven months during the Second World War, as a private and driver. She spent time with President Obama in July during a trip to Washington arranged by Talons Out Honor Flight, a charity that provides trips for veterans to visit monuments and memorials in the US capital.

"Emma Didlake served her country with distinction and honour, a true trailblazer for generations of Americans who have sacrificed so much for their country," Obama said in a statement. "I was humbled and grateful to welcome Emma to the White House last month, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to Emma's family, friends, and everyone she inspired over her long and quintessentially American life."

Didlake was born in Alabama and moved with her family to Detroit in 1944. She was known to her family as "Big Mama".

Her granddaughter, Marilyn Horne, said that when Talons Out officials presented her grandmother with a short-sleeved shirt bearing the group's logo to wear on the trip to Washington, Didlake took a look and said: "I don't have Michelle Obama arms – I'm going to need a jacket."

During her visit to the White House, Didlake sat in her wheelchair in the same spot in the White House where foreign leaders sit when they meet Obama. µ SHANNON BAXTER

Emma Didlake, US Army veteran: born Alabama 1905; married (five children); died 16 August 2015.

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