Honor Flight/Audio

Despite tragedies, female vet exudes positive attitude

CREATED Nov 8, 2011

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  • Rose Wozniak at the World War II Memorial. Image by Jon Byman

  • People filled Mitchell International to welcome their vets home.

  • The Honor Guard leads our vets back to their families at Mitchell International.

  • Waiting for our return flight.

  • At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier watching the changing of the guard.

  • Posing for the group shot at the WWII Memorial.

  • Wisconsin's column at the WWII memorial.

  • Flowers left at a memorial to the 101st Airborne at Arlington National Cemetery.

  • At the Women's Memorial.

  • Our welcome in Washington.

  • Relatives of one of our vets meet him at the airport in Washington.

  • Charlie Sykes shakes our vets hands as they arrive at Dulles International.

  • People in Washington DC welcome our vets at the airport.

  • Waiting to go see the sights.

  • Charlie Sykes poses with a vet.

  • Flying to Washington

  • Music for the vets as we wait for our flight.

  • Volunteers shake the hands of the vets prior to takeoff.

  • Vets and their Guardians lined up at Mitchell getting ready for their flight.

WASHINGTON DC - Rose Wozniak stands maybe about four and a half feet tall.  But what she lacks in height she makes up for with attitude.  You can immediately tell she's not someone you'd want to argue with, you'll lose.

At 92, Rose still lives alone, she still drives.  "I'm very lucky.  I eat right and I exercise a lot.  But boy do I like sweets."

Rose was like so many vets on the trip.  She had a relative as her guardian, her grandson, Brad.  "I couldn't get along without him," Rose told me.  She hit a curb with her car the other day.  She called him and recalls, "He said are you hurt, I said no.  He said well what's the problem?"

Rose spent her time in the service training others.  She also met great friends, including a woman who she calls her best friend to the day she died.  Although it wasn't best friend at first sight.  "I thought she was the biggest mouth I ever heard."

But they got to know each other and their friendship grew.  "I learned more about good friendship from her than from anyone I'd ever known."

She also met her husband in the service.  I asked about that.  She told me they met under a table at a bar.  I asked Rose to elaborate.  Her only response, "I never have."

The two met near the end of their service, and only had to spend six weeks apart.  Still, during that time they wrote a lot of love letters.  "I got a letter twice a day."

I was naturally curious.  The beginning of their lives together is documented.  Correction, was documented.

"I tore the ones up I wrote."  I was flabbergast.  She got rid of a treasure, an insight into our past!  I asked her why. "I don't know what was in them," she told me with a girlish giggle.  I questioned whether they were spicy.  She told me 'vibrant' might be a better description.

Rose still has the letters her husband wrote, also letters from her brother.  Rose has left instructions with her family to put her husband's letters in her casket when she dies.

Rose's husband died of an aneurysm 40 years ago.

She never married again.  "No one ever asked me," she told me.

Rose is no stranger to tragedy.  Her brother died in the war. "He was wounded on Okinawa the second day of the invasion and he died 10 days later in Saipan."

"My father was killed ten days before I graduated high school if you'd like to add to it."

Despite all she's lost, and being at a place that could easily bring bad terrible memories, Rose was jovial, laughing and enjoying her time with her grandson.

"I don't know why I have a positive attitude, but people don't like you if you don't."

I like Rose.  A lot.