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Lillibridge participates in Honor Flight at 95-years-old

| June 1, 2018

Ann Lillibridge, left, is pictured meeting former Senator Robert Dole who was at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. when her Honor Flight group came through on its tour. Pictured behind Lillibridge and Dole is her daughter Joyce Zachrich, who serviced as her guardian. Contributed | Beacon

COSHOCTON – Ann Lillibridge took the advice of her doctor and ended up going on the trip of a lifetime with a plane full of other veterans.

Lillibridge, who is from Coshocton, but moved to Columbus to be closer to family, took part in an Honor Flight on May 19.

“She is 95-years-old, but just recently started going to the doctor at the VA,” said Lillibridge’s daughter Joyce Zachrich. “Her doctor is a woman and told her she ought to go on the Honor Flight since not many women go and because of her age.”

Lillibridge enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1944 and received her training at Hunter College in New York. She was stationed at the naval base in San Diego, Calif. and was discharged in 1946. Shortly after being discharged she married Zachrich’s father Walter who served in the U.S. Army.

After the doctor convinced Lillibridge to take the flight, Zachrich applied for her and looked into being her guardian on the trip.

“She said she wouldn’t go unless I went with her,” Zachrich said. “Getting to be her guardian was really rewarding and fun.”

Honor Flights leave John Glenn International Airport in Columbus bright and early in the morning and fly into Baltimore, Md. Once there the veterans are loaded onto busses and escorted to Washington, D.C. to see the sites. Each veteran on the trip is assigned a guardian to help them along the way.

“The guardians had to be at a meeting at 4:45 in the morning, but mom called me at 3:30 in the morning and told me she was ready,” Zachrich said. “I thought that was incredible for someone who is 95.”

The whole trip takes place in one day so they didn’t get home until around 11:30 p.m. that night.

There were 88 veterans on Lillibridge’s flight. Most were Vietnam and Korean War veterans and three including Lillibridge were from the World War II era.

“Mom and the two men who were World War II veterans got the royal treatment,” Zachrich said.

One of the highlights of their trip was meeting Bob Dole, who was instrumental in getting the World War II Memorial built.

“He frequently sits out in front of the memorial and greets veterans,” Zachrich said. “It was a rainy day, but he still sat there and waited on the veterans he knew were coming.”

Lillibridge also received a folded flag for being the oldest veteran on the trip.

“She is really treasuring that,” Zachrich said.

Another memorable part of the trip was the mail call that took place on the bus ride back to Baltimore.

“They made sure each veteran on the flight got something,” Zachrich said. “They called out the veterans names and then brought them a pile of mail. Mom got three of them and ended up with 85 letters and cards from people. She was so overcome with emotion that she could only open about 10 of them. She didn’t want to miss anything so she waited to open the rest at home.”

She was very impressed with the whole Honor Flight experience and the way her mother was treated.

“I don’t remember my parents talking much about their time in the military,” Zachrich said. “It was the kind of thing people just wanted to put behind them, but she got so much joy out of being thanked for her service that day. The Honor Flight is a wonderful program and their focus really is to honor veterans and let them know their service was appreciated no matter what their job was.”

For more on the honor flight program in Columbus, visit www.honorflightcolumbus.org.

Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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