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Illinois’ first female honor flight takes off via Southwest Airlines from Midway Airport


CHICAGO (WLS) — An honor flight out of Midway Airport made history Wednesday as the first to be all-women in Illinois.

Honor flights are special missions that take military veterans to Washington, D.C. to honor their service to the country.

On Wednesday morning, it was all women onboard.

This comes after a year-long delay due to the COVID pandemic.

Ninety three female veterans were on the flight.

This is Illinois’ first honor flight exclusively for women.

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“My military service is part of me … I am proud of serving,” Army veteran Denise Carson said. “Weapons specialist and a motor pool sergeant, so yes I was in charge.”

They will participate in a day-long all-expense-paid trip to Washington to visit monuments.

The group includes World War II, Korea and Vietnam veterans, ranging in age from 63 to 104.
Rochelle Crump is a Vietnam vet. She helped organize this.

“I looked at, were there any women there? And there was always like one or two,” Crump said. “They never really shined a light on them because of the domination of the males.”

The participating veterans all lived in Illinois when they served, but now they hail from all over the Chicago area and the state.

“Last year we were all excited, and then we were disappointed, you know, because of the pandemic. So being here today, we’re all excited,” Crump said. “This is like their parade. You know, many of them have not had a parade before.”

Some traveled as far as California and Arkansas, and they said they’re just happy to be connected to one another.

Many of them have never been honored in this kind of way.

“It’s very exciting and very humbling. I don’t think I deserve it, but this is gonna be fun,” Vietnam veteran Kay Akins said. “I think it’s gonna be very moving. I’m looking forward to the women’s military museum.”

This flight is part of “Operation HerStory,” an initiative dedicated to highlighting the vital contributions of female veterans.

“All the women in the military have to put up with male chauvinism … but for the women that came before us, they had to deal with so much more,” women’s Army Corps member Denise Carson said.

The women said they’re the voice of the past and the future.

The special flight is chartered by Southwest Airlines.

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