First All-Female Illinois Honor Flight Takes Off From Chicago

First All-Female Illinois Honor Flight Takes Off From Chicago

The inaugural honor flight for women out of the state of Illinois took off last month in an effort to honor the service of female veterans.

The flight started at Midway Airport in Chicago at 3 a.m. Oct. 6, with 93 women from 63 to 104 years old. There were veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam taking off for Washington D.C.

The day-long trip was organized for the women by Operation HerStory. The organization helps arrange honor flights for female veterans for a journey that provided them with an all-expenses-paid excursion to several war memorials and historical sites in Arlington, including the Women's Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Mall.

It has been estimated that the state of Illinois had about 7,200 female veterans who served in the military from 1940 until 1975, according to the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

Gwen M. Diehl, of Taylorville, Ill.,  who is also the Veterans Home coordinator for the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, had joined the flight as a veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm and a Bronze Star recipient.

The group estimates that less than 3% of these passengers have flown to Washington, D.C., through Illinois Honor Flight so far. Since the Honor Flight Chicago began in 1992, more than 8,900 veterans from these wars have participated in this program.

Among the group on the flight are two veterans of the Second World War, seven veterans of the Korean War, and 84 veterans of the Vietnam War from the Chicago area.

More than 200 people from the Chicago area to the nation's capitol volunteered in the Oct. 6 event.