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Rosie the Riveters treated "like royalty" with Honor Flight to Washington D.C.

Eleven Rosie the Riveters, nine of them from Michigan, took part in an Honor Flight to Washington D.C. An honor usually reserved for World War II veterans was used to celebrate the women who worked in the factories to build the planes and tanks that helped win the war.

Jean Zaranko was a 17-year-old from Taylor when she signed up to work at Willow Run Airportin 1941. You had to be 18 to work in the factory. But Zaranko altered her birth certificate and lied about her age and ended up building B-24 bombers.

With the cherry blossoms in full bloom, the Rosies got a tour of all the sites in D.C. and took part in a luncheon hosted byRep. Debbie Dingell. It was Jean’s first trip to the nation’s capital, and she appreciated being treated “like royalty”. But she said one of the highlights for her was the World War II memorial.

“Just going there and seeing how our boys gave their lives for us. That was touching, at the wall. That was the most interesting for me.”

Jean turns 97 in June and is quick to point out how independent she is.

She’s proud of the bombers she built but is even more proud of the family she built. With her four sons, she has 18 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

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Josh Hakala is the general assignment reporter for the WEMU news department.
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