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Surprise 100th birthday held for Oklahoma WWII veteran

Posted at 12:47 PM, Jul 07, 2022

TULSA, Okla. — Family and friends held a surprise 100th birthday party for Oklahoma World War II veteran Winifred Imogene 'Freddie' Whelchel Dudley on Thursday.

Dudley told 2 News Oklahoma she can't believe she's lived this long but credits her life to her family, friends, and God.

Winifred Imogene “Freddie” Whelchel Dudley on her 100th birthday

She was born and raised in Westville, growing up during the Great Depression and the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the U.S. into WWII.

At just 19 years old, she enlisted in the Women’s Army Air Corps (WAAC) and served as part of the Air Transport Command, a unit that was primarily involved in the transportation of troops and blood plasma to bases throughout the United States. Because of her small stature, she could climb behind the instrument panels of the B-24 bombers to work on the machinery.

She later met her husband while on furlough in her hometown and she went on to have five kids.

Dudley went from serving as an electrical technician on B-24 bombers to teaching Sunday school, to smuggling bibles to Russia. She later co-founded the Honor Flight program in Tulsa.

Winifred Imogene “Freddie” Whelchel Dudley on her 100th birthday

Her family says Dudley may be small in stature but her size hasn't stopped her from living each day to the fullest. Other veterans, including multiple women, came to the party saying she'd inspired them.

In 2010, as a World War II veteran, Freddie took her first Honor Flight. When she returned from her trip, she helped co-found an Honor Flight program for the Tulsa area that sends WWII veterans to Washington D.C. free of charge.

Mayor G.T. Bynum honored Dudley at the surprise celebration birthday with special recognition of her service.

City of Tulsa recognizing Winifred Imogene “Freddie” Whelchel Dudley

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