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Wilma Nadeau, WWII veteran from New London, Minn., dies (honor guard videos)

News Willmar,Minnesota 56201
West Central Tribune
Wilma Nadeau, WWII veteran from New London, Minn., dies (honor guard videos)
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

NEW LONDON -- Wilma "Billie" Nadeau, 94, of New London, died Wednesday, less than two months after an all-women honor guard paid tribute to the World War II veteran.

Nadeau served in the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps from 1943 to 1945. She was a medical supply clerk at the Randolph Air Force Field Hospital in Texas and also served overseas in England, where she documented arrivals and departures of ships and planes.

Nadeau died at the Glen Oaks Care Center in New London. Her funeral will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at First Lutheran Church at Norway Lake.

Because Nadeau wanted her funeral arrangements to be in place, her daughter Betty McGuire began searching for a female honor guard for her mother's funeral.

She spoke with Master Sgt. Stephanie Rose, program manager for the honor guard at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. Rose told her that the base's female honor guard members would prefer to meet Nadeau and honor her while she was still alive.

The honor guard traveled to New London on May 11. They folded a flag and presented it to Nadeau, and performed a firing detail near the woods outside Glen Oaks.

When Rose presented her the flag, Nadeau said, 'I couldn't be prouder," and saluted, as did Rose.

After the ceremony, the women of today's military sat in a circle around Nadeau and listened to her stories of service and the conditions for women in the military during World War II.

Some men resented the presence of the women, and some people thought the military women had loose morals, she said.

"We had to be careful what we said and did to set a good example," she told the younger women.

Nadeau said she didn't talk about her service much after she returned home. Her own daughter didn't know about it until a few years ago.

The women on the trip said it's rare to have an all-female honor guard and even more unusual to conduct a service for a living veteran. They said they did it to thank Nadeau for paving the way for their own service.

Visitation for Nadeau will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Johnson Funeral Home of New London and one hour before the service at the church.

Staff writers Carolyn Lange and Linda Vanderwerf contributed to this story.

The complete story published May 25 about the honor guard visit with Nadeau can be viewed here: