Veteran on all-female honor flight tells her story

Local News

TOLONO, Ill. (WCIA) — One of the 93 veterans that were on the first all-female honor flight happened last month talked to WCIA about the trip of a life time.

“I think too often women veterans are overlooked,” said Paula Annino.

“It was our turn to be recognized. I wanted to meet people who went through the same thing that I did.”

That military life is in her blood. Annino was inspired to enlist because of her parents. They were parachute riggers during World War Two. Annino followed their lead and also joined the Navy, serving as a dental technician from 1965 to 1968.

Annio stated, “Even though I didn’t go overseas, what I did was important. What women do is important in the military.”

That was on full display as the women left Chicago and flew to the nation’s capital. The itinerary was packed.

Annino watched the changing of the guard, walked around the National Mall, and the highlight for the 74-year old, visited the Military Women’s Memorial. She tried to see it back in 1997.

“My mother and I were supposed to go out for the dedication and we actually made it out there,” remembered Annino. “We had to leave because my dad passed away that same morning.”

She didn’t have her mom this time but she definitely wasn’t alone.

“We were able to share a lot of stories of what we went through when we were in the military.”

A 16-hour day, shared with new friends, and a new found appreciation for their service.

“I feel like we did get the recognition finally.”

Annino knows of four other women veterans from central Illinois who were on the honor flight. They were from Gibson City, Taylorville and Bloomington.

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