CHICAGO, IL – Gwen M. Diehl of Taylorville, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Veteran Home Coordinator, will join the Operation HerStory all-female honor flight today, Oct. 6. Operation HerStory is a partnership between many organizations including Honor Flight Chicago and Daughters of the American Revolution to provide this special opportunity to the more than 7,000 senior women veterans in Illinois.
This one-day, all-expense paid trip originates in Chicago and Washington, D.C. for visits to historic sites including the Women’s Memorial in Arlington Cemetery and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial on the National Mall built in their honor.
Diehl joined the IDVA in 1996 and has served in roles including Data Entry Clerk, Administrative Assistant to Deputy Directors and Senior Public Service Administrators, and her current role where she conducts long-term planning for future capital projects to meet the needs of veterans. Diehl also served six years on the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Women’s Advisory Committee advocating for the needs of her fellow women veterans.
“Gwen has been a dedicated advocate for veterans since her retirement from the United States Army after more than 20 years of service,” said Acting Director Terry Prince. “Her contributions to IDVA have been invaluable, and she has impacted the lives of hundreds of veterans. Operation HerStory gives her an opportunity to be honored and spend time with the women who served before and alongside her. We are honored she is part of the IDVA family.”
Diehl joined the Army in 1972 where she participated in Basic Training at Ft. McClellan, Alabama and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Her stateside assignments brought her around the country includ- ing Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Fort Bliss, Texas, the National Training Center Barstow, California and Indianapolis, Indiana. Abroad, she was assigned to New Ulm, Heidelberg/Schwetzingen, and Ansbach, Germany, and Saudi Arabia.
Diehl deployed with Support Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment to Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia and was the oldest of 34 women who deployed into the combat theater with the Support Squadron. She maintained continuity of operations for personnel services, mail operations, and Red Cross/Emergency Leave procedures. She served in the deployed Rear Detachment, three miles from the Iraq Border. She is a recipient of the Bronze Star for her valiant efforts.
“Participating in Operation HerStory offers me the opportunity to meet the women upon whose shoulders I stood and the heroes who blazed the trails I chose to follow,” said Diehl. “Many returned home from combat and handled their experiences alone.
Diehl, a resident of Taylorville, has two sons and six grandchildren. She recently lost her husband of 46 years Donn R. Diehl, Jr., who also served in and retired from the Army. He cared for their sons while Gwen was deployed to Desert Shield.