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An Honor Flight to remember

It isn't often that one of our local Honor Flight recipients is a woman, but this year proved to be an exception.

Well-known and long time resident, Diane Griffin, was the 2023 honoree. Her flight departed Oct. 16 and returned on Oct. 18. And, even more unusual was the fact that three other Honor Flight recipients were also female, as well as their guardian Kay Philips of Tehachapi and bus leader, Arlene Aninion. Both were veterans themselves.

Each person had one regulation bag that they were allowed to take...and only one. No purse, no overnight cosmetic bag. The bags were small, 20 inches by 9 inches by 10 inches. Each honoree's bag was blue, while their guardian's bag was red. They had one guardian for four women, but each of the honorees was ambulatory for the most part.

On their first day in Washington, D.C., they were to be up by 5 a.m. and on the tour bus by 6 a.m. One of the female veterans' most fond hopes was to see the Military Women's Memorial, but early in the day they were told it was off the agenda. They were devastated. Their bus leader decided she would move the heavens to get it for them. And she did. A separate vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee, was commandeered and off they went! A dream satisfied.

The next day, they had to be on the bus by 5:30 a.m. to visit the Capitol Building. The Honor Flight buses, all four of them, were given an Honor Drive, escorted by a police envoy all the way to the Capitol. The freeway was theirs alone! No other vehicles were allowed.

At the Capitol, they were taken up to the House of Representatives where first Representative David Valadao spoke to them. Representative Kevin McCarthy appeared and was given a standing ovation. He posed for a group picture with the women honorees and had his photo taken with each honoree on the tour. All in all, it was a fabulous trip.

Diane Griffin grew up near Flint, Michigan and first entered the Air Force in 1974. She stayed for four years. She did not go overseas, but veterans from that time period are still considered veterans of the Vietnam era. She went to a technical school for 34 weeks in Colorado where she trained to become a Bomb Navigation Systems Mechanic on a B52G Bomber. She was then stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Washington. It was there she met her husband, popularly known in our community as "Grif." They transferred to Michigan when she finished her service. Their daughter was born there. After Grif's retirement they eventually ended up in Lancaster, both working in the aircraft industry.

Diane and Grif have lived in Bear Valley Springs for 26 years. They are well known in the golf community and the Sportsman's Club, too.

We thank you both, Diane and Grif, for your service.