Oldest female Marine in Calif. celebrates 104th birthday with drive-by party due to coronavirus

SAN DIEGO (KUSI/CNN) - Despite coronavirus restrictions, a 104-year-old woman, who served in the Marines in World War II, got to celebrate her birthday with a surprise drive-by celebration.

Ruth Gallivan, 104, is believed to be the oldest living female Marine west of the Mississippi, according to Honor Flight San Diego. She served in World War II. (Source: KUSI/CNN)

Sexism didn’t stop Ruth Gallivan from joining the Marines in the 1940s, and now, coronavirus isn’t stopping her from celebrating her 104th birthday. She is believed to be the oldest living female Marine west of the Mississippi, according to Honor Flight San Diego.

Holly Shaffner with Honor Flight says they received an email that Ruth Gallivan’s birthday parties had to be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, so they organized a drive-by celebration for her on her birthday, April 1.

“We're just so excited we could do this for this very deserving female Marine that led the charge for all the rest of our military women," Shaffner said.

Ruth Gallivan thanked everyone for the surprise, saying it made her day.

"It feels really cool to have all these people out here to celebrate her. 104 is crazy. It's amazing how many people came out to support her, and the parade was so great. It was so awesome to see how happy she was and surprised. She had absolutely no idea," said her granddaughter, Haley Gallivan.

After boot camp, Ruth Gallivan was assigned to the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar in 1946. There was no women’s barracks at the time, so she was tasked with establishing them.

"She’s so amazing, and I feel so lucky to have her as my grandma," Haley Gallivan said.

With the help of donations, Honor Flight escorts veterans to Washington, D.C., to see their memorials. Ruth Gallivan went on her “Tour of Honor” in 2015 at the age of 99.

Honor Flight is also collecting birthday cards for Ruth Gallivan. Those who would like to send a card can send it to the following address:

WMA San Diego Chapter
Attn: Ruth Gallivan
PO Box 87089
San Diego, CA 92138

Copyright 2020 KUSI via CNN. All rights reserved.