A World War II veteran from Maryland turned 102 years old recently. However, rather than slowing down, she upped the ante with an impressive birthday stunt—by jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet.
Vivian “Millie” Bailey jumped with Skydive Baltimore on Oct. 18. Howard County Executive Calvin Ball shared footage on Facebook, congratulating “Howard County’s beloved veteran” for crossing one huge item off her bucket list.
The veteran and her tandem partner, Cornelius, accelerated to a free-fall speed of 120 miles per hour before deploying their parachute for a safe landing. Bailey returned to a gathered crowd of family and friends on a golf buggy, describing the jump as “wonderful,” and “a real thrill.”
“Was I scared? Just for a minute,” she said. “I felt like I was tumbling. Then I thought, ‘No, somebody is holding on to me.’” She admitted feeling “just thankful that I made a safe landing!”
Skydive Baltimore acknowledged Bailey, who has been honored by two sitting presidents, on their Facebook page. “Today we were honored and privileged to help make [her] dream come true,” they wrote. “Congratulations Ms. Bailey!”
In an interview for the television series “Honor Flight Heroes” ahead of Veterans Day, Bailey revealed her desire and inspiration for the skydive. She said she wanted to do it after seeing President George H. W. Bush jump out of a plane at the age of 90.
The “Honor Flight Heroes” production company offered to foot the $300 bill and filmed Bailey’s dive for inclusion in the program. “Millie would be the first 102-year-old person on Mars, if it could be arranged,” praised the show’s executive producer, Eric J. Roberts.
Bailey, who was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, joined the U.S. Army in 1943 during segregation, according to WJLA. She eventually worked her way up to first lieutenant at Fort Benning, in charge of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) unit.
She served in the Army until 1946, after which she returned home to the States and got married. Today, Bailey resides at an assisted-living facility in Columbia and still sends care packages to soldiers deployed overseas.
“I estimate she has sent over 14 tons of care packages,” said her nephew, Martin Johnson. “Two weeks ago, I took six boxes that were shipped to Afghanistan which were donated from Aunt Millie.”
At 102, Bailey is still making an impact, but she’ll be keeping two feet on the ground from now on. Despite the thrill of her Oct. 18 skydive, Bailey said that once is more than enough for her.
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