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Honor Flight Kentucky to recognize women veterans this year

A woman veteran visits the Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington D.C.
Honor Flight Kentucky
A woman veteran visits the Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington D.C.

Honor Flight Kentucky is planning the first all-female veteran flight in its history later this year.

The Honor Flight program gives veterans a chance to visit memorials to the wars in which they served by flying them to Washington, D.C., for a one-day, all-expenses-paid trip. Many of the veterans who take part in the trips have not been to the memorials.

“It’s really important to honor women in this way because they have served such a unique purpose,” flight director Ashley Bruggeman said.

The upcoming all-female flight, called Operation HERoes, was organized in coordination with the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, the Kentucky Historical Society, and UPS.

The participants’ military service spans from the Korean War to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

“A lot of the younger female veterans are excited to be a part of it and pay honor to these older veterans who paved the way for their service,” Bruggeman said. 

Women have been included in previous Honor Flights out of the state, but this will be the first time one is specifically dedicated to them.

Bruggeman said women’s service in the military has often been diminished. 

“As we got to Vietnam, men were being drafted. The women — the 265,000 women — who served then were all volunteers,” Bruggeman said. “When everyone came back from Vietnam, the women were still even treated as if their service didn’t count or wasn’t the same.” 

Even as women’s presence in the armed services increased, they still had to work to be recognized back home for their service.

“They had to fight for 10 years to get a memorial for women on the National Mall,” Bruggeman said.

The upcoming flight includes veterans who helped pave the way for women in the military today.

Lt. Joanne Fry, of Glasgow, said she was in the third class of women to graduate from Naval Academy.

“I consider my experience as one that helped to open the doors for women to serve,” Fry said in a news release. “We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.”

Capt. Carolyn Furdek, of Louisville, is participating in the trip with her mother, Lt. Col. Margaret Logan. 

In the release, Furdek recalled arriving in Afghanistan during her military service.

“I thought back to the generations of female soldiers before me, including my grandmother and mother, and realized how far women had come in our roles in the military and combat,” Furdek said. 

The Honor Flight is set for takeoff on June 11. Women who want to take part in the flight can sign up to be placed on the standby list on the Honor Flight Kentucky website.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.