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Fri, Apr 28, 2023

'Rosie the Riveters' Honored

Storied B-24 Builders Enjoy Talons Out Honor Flight

Kalamazoo, Michigan-based aircraft management concern and aircraft charter operator RAI Jets was proud in the utmost to help coordinate the 2023 Talons Out Honor Flight—a noble undertaking by dint of which nine ladies from the Eastern Michigan Women Ordnance Chapter (WOW) of the American Rosie the Riveter Association (ARRA) were flown to Washington D.C. for a grand excursion.

The 27 March flight saw the women—all former Rosie the Riveters, aged 95 to 101—transported to the U.S. capital where they were feted after a fashion befitting their invaluable contributions to the Allied war effort of the 1940s. Most of the ladies aboard the flight had worked as riveters at Ypsilanti, Michigan’s Willow Run B-24 Bomber Plant. The women’s mascot, Rosie the Riveter, to this day exudes the determination and strength of the women who labored in factories to keep America’s fighting men provisioned with firearms, artillery, tanks, ships, aircraft, ammunition, and all manner of peripheral accouterments indispensable to the warfighter.

The Talons Out Honor Flight departed RAI Jets’ facility on the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport (AZO) aboard a Dornier 328 at 08:00 EDT on the morning of 27 March.

RAI Jets President Becky Riley-Bakeman, who was instrumental in planning the excursion and accompanied the group to Washington, remarked: “It was an honor to spend the day with these original Rosies and honor their contribution to history. They took the place of the fighting men in the factories and often worked dangerous jobs to support the war effort. They were so committed, some of them even lied about their age so they could go to work in the factory as young teens.”

The Rosie the Riveter flight was co-sponsored by WOW, the Boeing Company, and community donations. Talons Out Honor Flight is part of the Honor Flight Network, a national coalition comprising independent hubs committed to honoring America’s military veterans.

Talons Out Honor Flight tour lead Angela Pettit stated: “When WOW approached us to see if we could make an Honor Flight happen for the Rosies, we knew RAI Jets would be willing to help. RAI Jets has always supported the Honor Flights and has hosted pre-flight events at their hangar on many occasions. We knew we could count on them.”

Upon arriving in Washington, DC, and rendezvousing with two additional ARRA members, the group of 11 Rosies boarded a bus for the U.S. Capitol building and a special tour thereof. A luncheon with Congressional representatives Debbie Dingell (Democrat, Michigan) and Lisa McClain (Republican, Michigan) ensued. Thereafter, the ladies made an afternoon visit to the WWII Memorial.

The Rosies’ Washington D.C. itinerary ended with dinner courtesy of Boeing. To commemorate the event, the Boeing Company presented every Rosie two newly-minted, shadowboxed Challenge Coins, the entirety of which had traveled to the International Space Station aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.

The group returned safety to AZO, landing at approximately 23:30 EDT on the evening of 27 March—bringing to an end a memorable day and an honor well and truly earned.

Mrs. Riley-Bakeman set forth: “It was a long day for the ladies, but they were still talking and enjoying the flight on the way home. I guess that’s what makes them Rosies—They Can Do It!”

FMI: https://www.talonsouthonorflight.org/about-us.html

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