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Mrs. Mary Ann Lidwell
Private First Class
Branch of Service:
Marine Corps
City: Ashville
State: Pennsylvania
County: Cambria
Honored By:
Children – Blaise, Mark, Patrick, Amy and Carrie
Military Service:

Mary A. Lidwell
A Mother, A Marine, A Community Advocate, an Artist

Growing up during the great depression as one of seven children taught Mary that she had to be tough and determined to make her way in life. She attended grade school in a two-room school in Ashville. Even late into her 90s, she remembered all the names of her classmates in a picture taken in the mid-1930s that attended that school. She graduated from Gallitzin High School in 1942.

She took the civil service test which demonstrated that she had an attitude for technical work and was accepted into the Pennsylvania School of Aeronautics in Harrisburg. The trip to Harrisburg was her first-ever train ride. After graduation, she got a job in the Middletown Air Depot where she repaired damaged airplanes at a salary of $50.00 per month. Part of her salary was sent home to her family. Mary was featured in the book Blue Ribbon Patriotism by Mary Klaus which is an account of women that worked at the facility in Harrisburg repairing airplanes.

However, there was a war going on and Mary volunteered to join the Marine Corps. She went through basic training at Camp Lejeune where she learned to be a Marine. Her skills and knowledge in aircraft maintenance allowed her to get further aeronautic mechanical training in Normand, Oklahoma and then she was sent to the Women’s Aviation Reserve squadron in El Toro, California as her permanent location during the war. The work that she did there–repairing damaged airplanes, was the essence of “Rosie the Riveter.”

While she enjoyed her military experiences serving her country in times of war, she also had fun visiting Hollywood and other exciting places in California. She visited her brother who was also in the military and stationed on the west coast. There were fun beach parties and she learned to jitterbug–the new dance craze during the 1940s.

Mary enjoyed the Marine Corps and stayed in after the war ended until September 1946. She returned to Ashville and married a Navy veteran, Robert Lidwell that same year. They had five children, Blaise, Mark, Pat, Amy, and Carrie. Her sons Blaise and Mark served in the military as well as her two grandsons Joe Lego and Matt Lidwell.

Mary was a wonderful mother to her children and cultivated a rich family life. She learned to be an artist and had a gallery of paintings mostly outdoor scenes of local landscapes. She also plays the piano and is known for baking bread and pies for her family.

Mary reached her 100th birthday on October 11, 2023. She was feted at a community birthday party at the Ashville Fire Hall. She also had a surprise birthday celebration at the VA hospital after her annual checkup. She received visits from local dignitaries, received proclamations of service and gratitude from the Pennsylvania legislature, and received a letter of appreciation and a flag that flew over the US capital on the day of her 100th birthday from a three-star Marine General.

Mary was involved in community projects and fundraising activities for charities in the Ashville area. She also participated in Memorial Day services as part of the Ashville VFW Ladies Auxiliary including visits to local cemeteries to pay respects to our fallen heroes. She has led a full life and is continuing to this day at age 100.

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