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Wisconsin Navy veteran took part in 1st All-Female Honor Flight in Illinois

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 5:57 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 11, 2021 at 6:23 PM CDT
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HOWARD, Wis. (WBAY) - A veteran from Howard took part in the first All-Female Honor Flight in Illinois Wednesday.

Claudia Ryczkowski served in the Navy from 1973-1976.

“I went in at the very base, as just a regular little seaman and then I came out as a DM5, which is a Draftsman 3rd Class,” said Ryczkowski.

Nearly 50 years after her service, she got the chance to connect with other female veterans thanks to a friend who invited her to the Honor Flight Chicago.

“It was just awesome. it’s hard to talk about it without getting a little bit tearied-eyed,” she said. “It was quite an experience, I mean very emotional. When we got off the plane at Washington D.C., we had a band and we had probably 100 policemen, firemen, service people and everyone was there to greet us. It was just fantastic.”

She called it a “trip of a lifetime”.

“Just to have all of the ladies that, you didn’t serve with them but you all had a commonality,” she said.

Ryczkowski said she didn’t feel deserving of other honor flights.

“I thought it was an honor for the men, and it was more for the World War II and the Korean Veterans and the Vietnam Veterans. And I just didn’t think it was my place. I never had a role in any conflict, or anything,” said Ryczkowski.

Wisconsin has yet to offer an all-female honor flight. Action 2 News contacted the Old Glory Honor Flight and were told other female veterans felt the same as Ryczkowski when it came to the traditional honor flights, so not many sign up for the trip. However, the Old Glory Honor Flight is hoping to offer an all-female trip one day.

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