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Pioneer Rose Shefuo paved the way for women in the military

'On her headstone it's gonna say, I did it my way, because she did'
Rose Shefuo Web Photo.PNG
Posted at 11:06 AM, Feb 08, 2022

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Rose Shefuo was laid to rest on a blustery and grey Thursday afternoon.

The 102-year-old may have approved that weather; she was a tough woman, molded that way by necessity.

What she accomplished in her military career, which spanned three wars, was rare.

"She always had to be better," said Shefuo's niece Theresa Aiello-Clough.

Shefuo was a pioneer for women in the United States military — she was among the first to join the Army Air Corps, then the Air Force.

She moved up the ranks fast, mostly due to the strong work ethic she developed through the lean years of the Great Depression.

"Her mom had good work ethic, but I think of women today, I think of role models," said Aiello-Clough. "Who was her role model growing up? There weren't a lot of women to have a role model towards. She paved her own way."

And she also paved the way for others to follow, including Aiello-Clough, who also joined the service.

"I was lost and I was just trying to find my way, and I decided to go into the Air Force like my Aunt Rose did," said Aiello-Clough.

Air Force veteran Ginger Bryant is thankful, too. She actually served during the time Shefuo was nearing the end of her career.

"What they went through back then, it was so different," Bryant said. "It's always been a struggle, and we've always had to outwork to prove we could do the work, and we owe glory to these women."

It took a presidential signature in 1967 to open higher military ranks to women, and Shefuo was one of the first to be promoted to the rank of full colonel.

"That was history(-making) back then," Bryant said. "We didn't have any colonels back then."

Shefuo was dedicated to her country. She served as a nurse in World War II, including during the historic Berlin Airlift that kept Allied Forces alive.

She also served a stateside tour during the Korean War before taking on a hospital command at Clark Air Base during the Vietnam War.

In all, she was never far away in thought from her family at home.

"She did everything for us," Aiello-Clough said. "I mean very generous and any event life event. She was there."

Shefuo never married, although she did have two opportunities.

"I used to joke with her and say, 'You know, back in your day, we called you an 'Old Maid,' and now we call you smart right,' " Aiello-Clough said with a laugh.

Shefuo did have one special guy in her life though: her dog Spike.

"That was the love of her life," said Aiello-Clough.

Shefuo also had pen pals from all over the world. She may have been strong-willed, but she cared about her people and family.

Deep down inside, she was a born-and-raised Jersey girl with a heart of the Yellow Rose of Texas, living life on her own terms.

"On her headstone it's gonna say, 'I did it my way,' because she did," Aiello-Clough said smiling.