VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., Nov. 6 (UPI) -- A 97-year-old woman who taught the children of Special Forces soldiers at their base in Germany has become the 10th honorary Green Beret.
Doris Baker, who now lives in a retirement community in Virginia Beach, received the honor in a ceremony there Wednesday.
"The U.S. Army Special Forces has been around since World War II, and yet there have only been nine official honorary members of the regiment," Col. Matthew Carran, commandant of Special Forces at the Army special warfare school at Fort Bragg, said. "It doesn't happen often."
The honor is given only to civilians who have given special support to or served as role models for the Green Berets.
Baker was touched by the award.
"I wish I could hug every one of you," she said during the ceremony.
Baker became a teacher at the school in Bad Toelz, where the 10th Special Forces Group was based, in 1950. She signed up because she had learned women at the school where she taught in Michigan were getting paid less than men.
She remained there for 39 years. H.C. "Woody" Woodward, who pushed for her honorary membership, said she not only taught the children of Green Berets, she gave them and their families guidance when the soldiers were away.
Woodward said the colonel commanding the group, the officer in charge, told him who was who when he arrived at Bad Toelz in 1970 to set up outdoor skills programs for soldiers and schoolchildren.
"Miss Baker is your first OIC," he was told. "I am your second OIC."
Michael Vickers, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, and Lt. Gen. Charles Cleveland, now head of the Army Special Operations Command, submitted letters in support of Baker's nomination, Woodward said. He also got support from dozens of former Green Berets who were stationed at Bad Toelz.