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Memorial honors veteran who had no family at burial 20-plus years ago

On the eve of Memorial Day, a time set aside to remember those who died serving their country, a World War II and Korean War veteran was honored with a memorial service more than 20 years after she died.

On Friday,May 24, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Harriet M. Hardin West Waddy was given a memorial service at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City.

Waddy was an African-American woman who was among the first 39 graduates of the Army’s first officer candidate school for women in 1942 in Iowa. She was also the first and one of only two African-American members of the Women’s Army Corps promoted to major in World War II.

Waddy died more than 20 years ago onFeb. 21, 1999. She was buried at the Southern Nevada Veterans Cemetery. As she did not have any surviving family members, no one was at her service.

The Women Veterans of Nevada honored Waddy by giving her the military service she never had.

“Today is the day to honor a World War II veteran who was buried and interred alone,” said retired United States Navy Cmdr. Carlton G. Philpot.

Philpot emceed the service and is the chairman and project director for the Buffalo Soldier Educational and Historical Committee.

“After 20 years, Col. Waddy’s spirit is at rest,” he said. “All is well.”

During the service, retired United States Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Bobi Oates read several readings, including the poem, “The Broken Chain,” by Ron Tranmer.

“Welcome home, Col. Waddy,” she said. “May God bless your soul and Mother Earth keep your ashes.”

Nevada Veterans Services Director Kat Miller was presented with a flag at the service in honor of Waddy.

In addition to serving in two wars, Waddy was made a military aide to the director of the WACs in 1949 and helped to improve and enhance the treatment of women in the military.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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