Illinois' first all-women veteran honor flight to Washington, D.C. takes off from Midway

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois' first all-women veteran honor flight to Washington, D.C. took off from Chicago Midway International Airport on Wednesday.

Vietnam War veteran Rochelle Crump helped organize the historic flight.

"It's amazing I think all of the women are elated to be a part of it," Crump said.

For the 93 women who took part in the flight, Crump said the event "is like their parade" because many did not originally have a parade. The participants range in age from 63 to 104 years old, including veterans who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Crump added that many people have thanked the women for their service and asked questions, learning to "understand women serve too now."

Another Vietnam War veteran, Kay Akins, said she's excited to visit Washington, D.C.

"I think it's going to be very moving looking forward to the women's military museum," Akins said. "I'm excited to see everything I can."

The women spent the day touring war memorials in the nation's capital, pausing to read the plaques honoring military women just like them.

"Can't begin to describe it. It made me feel like a veteran. A really recognized veteran," said Bette Horseman.

"I had no idea what was in store and it was more than I could have ever imagined," said Vida Barber.

The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is always inspiring, but for these women it was life-changing.

The trip was arranged by Operation HerStory, an organization that helps arrange honor flights for women veterans. Army veteran Denise Carson said she came to the organization because of the women who joined the military before her. She said those women opened up opportunities for her to do non-traditional jobs in the Army.

"They didn't have a voice," Carson said. "It's up to those of my generation, younger generation to be that voice for all of us. That's our responsibility."
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