United States' oldest surviving Coast Guard SPARs member lives in Bismarck

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BISMARCK, N.D.- The nation's oldest surviving Coast Guard SPARs member lives in Bismarck. She and a fellow veteran were recognized by the military in preparation for Women's History Month in March.

Terry Nelson and Kathleen Donahue both served in the Coast Guard during World War 2. Terry enlisted on the first day that women were allowed to serve.

"I said that I have to be an officer, because my dad is currently, and I wouldn't be able to go home if I wasn't an officer and they made me an ensign." said Terry Nelson, veteran.

Both women were part of the SPARs program which allowed women to serve in administrative and support roles at home to free up more men to serve on ships.

"That is where women became part of the U.S. military and these women that we recognize today were the foundation for us. They set the path forward and broke barriers, and did all these incredible things during that particular conflict." said Brig. Gen. Jackie Huber, NDNG.

Kathleen's father served in WWi and she followed in his footsteps.

"It was the best time of my life, young adulthood anyway. I'm so proud to meet her because she was one of the originals." said Kathleen Donahue, veteran.

This was the first time the two veterans had met, they received letters from a Rear Admiral of the Coast Guard, and red white and blue roses from the North Dakota National Guard.

March is Women's History Month commemorating the role women played in history and society.