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Derry veteran receives military honors

DERRY — One of the town’s female military veterans is being honored at the state’s veterans cemetery.

Annie Frasier Norton, a World War I Navy veteran, now has a memorial bench in her honor at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen.

The bench was placed to commemorate Norton as the first woman in the nation’s history to die while serving in the armed forces.

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Norton was a 1911 graduate of Pinkerton Academy and was entered in the school’s Hall of Fame in 2011.

Following her graduation from Pinkerton, Norton enlisted in the Navy, one of thousands of women entering military service. She became a yeoman second class.

Her duties included being assigned as a clerk/stenographer at the Portsmouth Naval Yard, a vital location during World War I.

In 1918, Norton fell ill and eventually died from the Spanish flu. She was named as the very first woman to die as a member of the U.S. military.

In his book “Nutfield Rambles,” Derry town historian Richard Holmes said Norton was among a unique group of women who wanted to do something to help the war effort.

“Thousands of women applied to be part of the Navy and do their bit to win the war,” Holmes said.

He said Norton joined the honored list of 7,200 sailors who died in the “war that ended all wars.” She was buried in Everett, Mass., with military honors.

Holmes said remembering Norton as an important member of the female ranks during World War I should make Derry proud.

“We should be proud of the role our town has played in the history of women in the military and of the pioneering sacrifice of Annie Frasier Norton,” he said.

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