Rare military honor for Clovis woman

FRESNO, Calif.

Hester McCutchen's son Mike didn't want his mom's service to her country to go unnoticed and his special request was granted.

The flag-draped coffin let you know another American hero was being laid to rest in Clovis. 83-year Hester McCutchen received full military honors, including a 21-gun salute and the playing of "Taps."

McCutchen was not a U.S. veteran but Colonel Richard Miller of Joint Service Honors Command felt the work she did during WWII warranted a special ceremony. Miller said, "I don't know if it's ever been done for the Rosie the Riveter ladies but they deserve it. They worked just as hard as our guys fighting did."

Hester McCutchen worked as a welder on ships at Mare Island near Vallejo. Her son Mike explained, "She crawled along on her back and welded over her head and to this day, still carried scars of hot metal that melted through her clothing into her skin."

With so many American men off to war including her husband, women like Hester McCutchen went to work in shipyards and factories.

"Rosie the Riveter" become a cultural icon during that time. Her image inspired women to join the workforce.

Mike McCutchen now lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He came back to the valley overcome by the respect shown for his mother. Mccutchen said, "It was one of those things that women of her generation show what she did. The Rosie the Riveters, the Fay the Factory workers, the Sally the Schoolteachers or the Hester the Welder, never got the credit they deserved."

The service was a tribute to a generation that kept the country going while the world was at war. Colonel Miller explained, "Our guys would have had no bullets, no airplanes, no tanks, no nothing to fight with if they hadn't been there doing their job."

Mike McCutchen called it a great honor for his mother and for hundreds of thousands of other women who served just as proudly.

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