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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Last surviving Puerto Rican female WWII veteran dies at 100


Elba Cintrón Ruiz


By THE STAR STAFF


Elba Cintrón Ruiz, who was the last surviving Puerto Rican female veteran of World War II, has passed away. She was 100 years old.


Veteran Advocate Agustín Montañez Allman provided the information. Cintrón Ruiz, a resident of the Casa del Veterano in Juana Díaz, was accompanied by her daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren at the time of her passing.


“We feel the profound loss of a woman of great convictions and temperament, who with her affability and sensitivity encouraged us to embrace service to our neighbors and to our people, as a testimony of life,” the veteran advocate said.


In 2019, Cintrón Ruiz was inducted into the Puerto Rican Veteran Hall of Fame.


Montañez Allman said “Doña Elba” always remembered the moments when, as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Nursing Corps, she cared for wounded Puerto Rican soldiers at the old Fort Brooke, now the Ballajá Barracks in Old San Juan.


She still had some of the military uniforms that she wore in the 1940s.


Born in Yauco, she is the widow of former Ponce Mayor Juan H. Cintrón.


The veteran nurse, mother of three daughters, grandmother of eight grandchildren, great-grandmother of nine great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandmother of two great-great-granddaughters, was one of 13 Puerto Rican nurses who entered service in 1944, at the Rodríguez Hospital in Fort Brooke.


Like other pioneers before her, Cintrón Ruiz helped increase female presence in the military. Currently, 16% of the U.S. military force comprises women, according to data from the U.S. Department of Defense. Women also occupy positions in 95% of military specialties.


Cintrón Ruiz’s remains were cremated, fulfilling her dying wish.


“We will miss her wise advice, maternal warmth, and the genuine friendship she extended to all of us,” Montañez Allman added. “It is unforgettable.”


Puerto Rico has an estimated 5,300 veterans.

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