By Roger McKinney
GRANBY, Mo. —
Eunice Lewis during World War II in 1943 learned her husband, George McFarland, had been captured by the Japanese.
She decided she needed to do something, so she joined the Women’s Army Corps.
On Monday, she celebrated her 100th birthday among dozens of well-wishers at Granby House nursing home. She turned 100 on Sunday and is among the oldest veterans of the WACs.
She served in the WACs from Sept. 1, 1943, to Dec. 16, 1945. Stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, she was responsible for writing the soldiers’ wills.
At the time, she was one of more than 150,000 women involved in the war effort. She received the American Theater Campaign Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
Her first husband died sometime after the war, and she married Leon Lewis.
Lewis kissed the hands of her visitors on Monday.
Asked about turning 100, she said: “I don’t think much about it.”
She always was succinct when offering advice to younger generations.
“Look before you leap,” she said.
Among the items displayed on a table were a World War II-era photo of Lewis in her uniform, a Missouri House of Representatives resolution honoring Lewis, and recognition of Lewis entered into the Congressional Record by U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo.
There also was a painting of flowers, signed by Lewis.
“She taught art classes here in town” for many years, said Tammy Sherwood, activities director at Granby House.
Sherwood said Lewis has told her that when she was making out the wills of the soldiers, she had to be precise, because any mistake could cause big problems for the soldiers’ families.
“She loves attention,” Sherwood said. “She’s a special lady. She really is.”
Granby House employee Misty Shepherd agreed.
“She loves Bingo,” Shepherd said. “And she loves to make people smile.”
A delegation of state legislators, including Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, and state Reps. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, and Bill Lant, R-Pineville, attended.
Lant had sponsored the House resolution two years ago.
“It was an amazing thing she did” in joining the WACs, Lant said. “In the situation with her husband and not knowing where he was or what his condition was, it was a wonderful gesture.”
The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps became the Women’s Army Corps, part of the regular Army, on July 3, 1943.
Source: U.S. Army Center of Military History