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Saluting a Heroine - Walt Disney World honors World War II female Navy Veteran Pat Rudd

The flag retreat ceremony at Magic Kingdom is a cherished part of a day at Walt Disney World, and that special tradition was recently elevated with an iconic recognition of Dorothy “Pat” Rudd for her service in the U.S. Navy.


Saluting a Heroine - Walt Disney World honors World War II female Navy Veteran Pat Rudd

A 101-year-old World War II and U.S. Navy veteran, Dorothy “Pat” Rudd, has participated in the daily Flag Retreat ceremony as Veteran-of-the-Day in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort.


The Flag Retreat ceremony honoring those with military service has been a tradition since the resort first opened October 1, 1971.


Saluting a Heroine - Walt Disney World honors World War II female Navy Veteran Pat Rudd

In 1942, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Public Law 689 establishing the Women’s Reserve as a branch of the Naval Reserve authorizing women to serve in the Navy for the duration of the war, plus six months.


Pat jumped on this opportunity and joined the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) program to perform shore-based duties for the U.S. Navy. Pat, a Specialist S, 3rd Class, was stationed in Washington, D.C. for a year before becoming one of the first 200 WAVES to be deployed overseas – in her case, to what was then the Territory of Hawai’i. There, she served as an educator helping service members learn how to read and write, and she also helped over at the hospital helping those wounded.


Saluting a Heroine - Walt Disney World honors World War II female Navy Veteran Pat Rudd

Pat met her husband, Gerald, at Pearl Harbor, who was active-duty Navy himself, and they were married for 71 years. Pat also has an interesting connection to Disney as her late husband helped construct the log cabins that are still enjoyed by Magic Kingdom guests in Frontierland today. Gerald also helped build parts of EPCOT and Walt Disney World’s original resort hotels.


Saluting a Heroine - Walt Disney World honors World War II female Navy Veteran Pat Rudd

“I was really happy the buildings he helped build in Frontierland are still there,” said Pat while beaming with pride surveying her late husband’s contributions to building Magic Kingdom. “I’m proud of him and that his work has brought so much joy to so many people here at Disney.”


Saluting a Heroine - Walt Disney World honors World War II female Navy Veteran Pat Rudd

Honoring a World War II military veteran in Magic Kingdom had particular importance to members of the Disney SALUTE veteran employee resource group who participated in the day’s events.


“Pat’s unwavering spirit and commitment to duty are an inspiration to fellow servicewomen,” said Susan Finnigan, lead project manager for Disney marketing and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. “It was an honor to be able to join my fellow veterans here at Disney to help celebrate a trailblazer and hero like Pat.”


Saluting a Heroine - Walt Disney World honors World War II female Navy Veteran Pat Rudd

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