This Memorial Day weekend, we flew one of the original Rosie the Riveters, 95-year-old Phyllis Gould who worked at the Bay Area’s local Kaiser Shipyard during World War II, in our First Class cabin to Washington, D.C. to participate in the City’s parade to celebrate this important national holiday. Our airport and in-flight teams will be giving this hero of the WWII effort the VIP treatment on her journey to our nation’s capital.
The Rosie the Riveter icon represents the American women who worked in factories producing war supplies, replacing the men who were called into military service. The “Rosies” filled the labor gap, working as electricians, welders, draftspersons and in other ship, airplane and tank assembly roles during the war. By stepping into these skilled jobs on the home front, they broke barriers for women in the workplace, benefiting generations of U.S. working women who would follow them.
Phyllis was living in Richmond, Calif. when she and her husband heard the radio broadcast about the attack on Pearl Harbor that drew the U.S. into WWII in 1941. In response to that fateful event, her husband declared he wanted to learn welding and Phyllis quickly replied, “Me too.” She earlier had been rejected for such a role because she was a woman, but she was one of the first women to be hired when the U.S. entered the war. Even after she was hired, she had to be chaperoned around the shipyard.
In 2014, Virgin America had the honor to fly Phyllis and several other surviving Rosies to the White House, where they met with then Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama.
Phyllis was invited to D.C. this weekend by the organization, Spirit of ‘45’s (“Keep the Spirit of 45 Alive”) – which is an alliance of organizations and individuals that work together to preserve and honor the legacy of the men and women of America’s WWII generation so that their achievements and values will continue to inspire future generations.
Virgin America is honored to support Veterans and men and women of the armed forces. Virgin America also flies Veterans to Washington D.C. to see the memorials as part of the Honor Flights Bay Area program. Honor Flights recognize American veterans for their sacrifices and achievements.