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104-year-old veteran’s birthday celebrated with drive-by party

104 birthday party

(CNN) — Sexism didn’t stop Ruth Gallivan from joining the Marines in the 1940s and coronavirus isn’t stopping her from celebrating her 104th birthday.

She’s the oldest female marine in California and was the guest of honor during festivities this past week in San Diego.

“We received an email last week that Ruth Gallivan was turning 104 today, and she was so sad that her birthday parties, yes, with an ‘S’, had to be canceled for today. We were asked if we can help get the word out about sending cards and we were like, ‘We can do better than that. We organized this drive-by birthday party for her. It was a total surprise until the moment she came out the door, and we’re just so excited that we could do this for this very deserving female Marine that led the charge for all the rest of our military women,” said Holly Shaffner with Honor Flight San Diego.

“It feels really cool, to have all these people out here to celebrate her 104 is crazy,” said Haley Gallivan, Ruth Gallivan’s granddaughter. “It’s amazing how many people came out to support her in the parade … was so great. It was so awesome to see how like happy. She wasn’t surprised and she had absolutely no idea.”

When the party was thrown for Ruth Gallivan, she expressed how thankful she was.

“This is amazing, and I thank you so much,” said Ruth Gallivan. “It made my day.”

Gallivan was assigned to the Marine Corps. air station in Miramar in 1946. It didn’t have barracks for women at that time, so she was tasked with establishing them.