In Kentucky, 24,000 women are veterans. On Saturday, June 11, dozens of them traveled to Washington, D.C., with Honor Flight Kentucky to see the monuments and memorials built in their honor.
“We’re preparing to honor 134 female veterans from across the commonwealth for both the service and the legacy that they leave for future generations of women,” Ashley Bruggeman with Honor Flight Kentucky said.
Three of those women are from western Kentucky.
Cynthia Moore, of Eddyville, was the ward master of an Army hospital in Paducah. “I had a wonderful time at basic training. It was hard!” Moore told me.
That’s different from what we usually hear from veterans about basic training.
“I wasn’t expecting that, but I thought, ‘OK, I can do it,’ ” she said.
Moore would eventually become a nurse, joining the 807th Combat Support Hospital, a surgical hospital in Paducah. “And there were a lot of doctors, and nurses and females. There were a lot of females in that unit.”
“Really, I’m humbled about going on the Honor Flight. I think I served in the states in a support position all through the military. And I thought, these are veteran women who have really served, you know, in Iraq and Iran, even in Vietnam. I was always in a support section, and I thought, well, this is their flight — their Honor Flight. But I’m very humbled to go, and I’m excited to go,” Moore said. “There’ll be a lot of laughs, a lot of fun, because there’s nothing like military women.”
Dee Robinson, of Eddyville, served as a naval corpsman. Robinson was the only woman of about seven people to serve as a medical illustrator in the armed forces. She documented the work doctors were doing on Vietnam War patients.
“Although I wanted to serve on a hospital ship, at that time women were not allowed. Enlisted women were not allowed to go on sea duty,” Robinson explained.
That didn’t stop her from trying.
“Over and over again — deny, deny. And it’s because we were just not afforded the same opportunities that the women who were serving today are,” Robinson said.
Robinson was inspired by a love of country and family to join up.
“I was one who was smitten by JFK in high school. I was smitten by ‘Ask not what your country can do for you.’ He was assassinated while I was in high school, and it was heartbreaking,” Robinson said.
“Those words, they did, they resonated with me. And my dad was 19 years old when he joined the Navy during World War II. And I was a sophomore in college at the time. And like I said, there was so much dissension, and you almost had to choose a side. And I chose the side to join and do something.”
While things have changed a bit since Phyllis Gutting, of Murray, was in the Army, what hasn’t changed is her pride in her country.
“I went in as a private, and it was back in 1975. It was the delayed entry program. I don’t think they even have that around anymore. They don’t have a lot of things around anymore that I had,” Gutting laughed.
Why is she so devoted to her service?
“I love my country. And I love my fellow man,” she explained.
Gutting didn’t see combat, but as an instructor to the instructors, she’s handled her fair share of military equipment.
“I have thrown hand grenades, and I have fired weapons. I’m qualified with German weapons,” Gutting said. “When I qualified as an instructor, I taught on the L.A.W., which isn’t legal. It is light aircraft weapon. You just put it on your shoulder, and I still remember how to do it. That was my course that I taught to become an instructor.”
Gutting’s father attended an Honor Flight in 2018.