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Local woman visits World War II plane she helped build

100-year-old Gladys Prochaska worked on wiring for planes at a Detroit factory in the 1940s.
Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 6:27 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - An incredible story of a local woman, and a World War II plane she helped build. 100-year-old Gladys Prochaska is one of many women who were part of the effort to help win the war. They were often called Rosie the Riveters.

Gladys was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago ‚and now lives at The Heritage in Findlay. Rose Woods is her niece. She says Gladys has been like a mother to her.

“She’s a tough lady, she’s been through a lot. She worked in Detroit in a factory during the war making parts for the planes. She is a classy lady who worked hard all her life. I am so proud of her.”

Gladys worked on the wiring for a B-26 Marauder now on display in Dayton. The plane is part of the collection of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. She was given a special tour of the museum Wednesday as part of a special program at The Heritage.

Wayne Riegle works at The Heritage, and he is one of the people who made this possible.

“Seeing Gladys and the plane she helped build that helped win World War II gave me goosebumps. There were lots of smiles and a few tears were shed too.”

Rose says it was an emotional day for everyone.

“It truly was a special day for all of us. It means so much that so many people worked to make this possible. It was fantastic.”

Rose says Gladys had four brothers who served in the war, so her work on the planes was personal.

“She felt she needed to do her part to help because four of her brothers had gone into the service.”

Wayne says the day at the museum was a fitting tribute to Gladys’ service to our country.

“The tour guide stopped everyone else that was near us, and introduced Gladys as a Rosie the Riveter. It was her time to shine, it was great.”

The visit to the museum began with a picture of Gladys working at the Detroit factory in the 1940s. Her niece brought it to The Heritage to hang up in Gladys’ room, and that started a conversation that eventually lead to the trip to Dayton. Wayne says the staff at the museum did the leg work to verify that the plane there Is one that Gladys did work for.

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