She’s soaring to new heights!
At 102-years-old Vivian “Millie” Bailey has proved she isn’t afraid to go on new adventures. This past Sunday, she decided to cross off a major item on her bucket list — skydiving. After seeing former President George H.W. Bush take the leap at 90, she felt she could do it too.
“I was inspired by the fact that he did it,” Bailey told WJLA. “The fact that a person at that age could do the jump.”
This adventure was made possible due to a segment she was shooting for the series Honor Flight Heroes airing on Discovery Networks’ American Heroes Channel on Veterans Day. The producers asked her if there was anything she hadn’t done yet, and skydiving was her answer. She’d been wanting to do it for some time but was hoping someone would allow her to jump without the $300 price tag.
The Honor Flight Heroes production company decided to grant her wish and pick up the bill for a chance to include the segment in the program.
“You couldn’t ask for a more thrill-packed ending to the episode,” Eric J. Roberts, executive producer for the series, told WJLA. “Millie would be the first 102-year-old person on Mars if it could be arranged!”
Bailey was excited when the day came. She was full of questions for her skydive instructor Cornelius at Skydive Baltimore.
“Do you push me out before you come out?” WJLA said she asked. “If you want to go on a real adventure, but I think we should stick together,” the instructor laughed.
Her family and friends looked on with tears in their eyes as she floated to the ground, saying she inspired them.
When she landed, she came up with a huge smile.
“It was wonderful, a real thrill!” Bailey told the reporter. “I was scared for one minute, it felt like I was tumbling, and then I thought, somebody is holding onto me.”
Bailey was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and joined the army due to scarce job opportunities for Black people. Although still segregated in the military, she rose through the ranks, becoming a second lieutenant in April 1943.
She was second in command of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) at Fort McClellan before being transferred to Fort Benning. There she was selected to go to action general school, which she called a “very high honor.” She then became first lieutenant in charge of the WAC detachment, staying there until she left the army in 1946.
She currently lives in Columbia, Maryland, at an assisted living home where they say she is doing very well for her age. Her nephew, Martin Johnson, told reporters he wasn’t surprised she wanted to go skydiving.
Although she’s long since left the military, she has continued to give back, sending care packages to those deployed overseas.
“I estimate she has sent over 14 tons of care packages for soldiers overseas,” Johnson told WJLA. “Two weeks ago, I took six boxes that were shipped to Afghanistan, which were donated from Aunt Millie.”
Christopher Williams, who was deployed with the U.S. Air Force in Afghanistan in 2017, said he was one of the thousands of service members Bailey has touched over the years.
“She followed me the whole way [from Afghanistan to Iraq] and sent me handwritten notes,” Williams told WJLA. “When I came back home, I was able to meet her, and it was the best thing ever.”
You’re an inspiration to us all, Ms. Bailey!
Photo Credit: WJLA