Saturday, September 24, 2016

First All Female Veteran Honor Flight Brings Women Together

First all-women Veterans’ Honor Flight from Columbus visits D.C. war memorials
Department Veterans Affairs

Jennifer Sardam
September 21, 2016

“Most times, women were not wanted overseas unless you had a nurse’s degree, and you could take care [of] or nurture the men that were injured,” said Dorothy “Dottie” Wolfe, who served in the Marine Corps, Marine Corps Reserve and Air National Guard. “But I served, and I was proud to have served. I would have gone had they sent me, under any situation. That’s what you signed the contract for, and I knew it.”
Honor Flights from across the country bring Veterans to Washington, D.C., several times a week.

But Sept. 10, the Honor Flight Columbus organization out of Ohio sent the group’s first all-women Veterans’ Honor Flight to the nation’s capital. While there, 81 women—Veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War—visited their respective monuments.

The trip to Washington kicked off with a hosted event at the Women in Military Service for America (WIMSA) Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, and included stops at a number of sites: the Iwo Jima Memorial, the U.S. Air Force Memorial and the memorials for World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught—one of the most decorated women in U.S. military history—was among those who greeted the group at the WIMSA Memorial; in 1966, she was also the first woman to deploy with an Air Force bomber wing.

“It means so much to see this group of women come in and see what the memorial means to them, because it does mean something to them,” said Vaught. “It is seeing their service to our country paid tribute to by the nation. And yet with it all, there comes laughter and joy, and that’s the way it ought to be about serving our country.”

As the pioneers of their times, these women blazed a path that until then was only traveled for men. And yet despite their contributions, they weren’t so readily accepted as equals.

“My career field was supposed to be aerospace jet mechanic,” said retired Air Force Veteran Phyllis Collins, who goes by the nickname “Sunshine.”

“And the guys didn’t like me there … I was supposed to be working on a dead battery. They hooked it up, and I got zapped,” she said. “So I changed my career field real fast. I became a military cop.”
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