A 102-year-old suburban Baltimore resident and World War II veteran celebrated her birthday on Sunday, Oct. 18, by taking a daring leap and crossing another “thrill” off her bucket list.
Vivian “Millie” Bailey went skydiving from a height of 10,000 feet with her tandem partner Cornelius to celebrate her big day.
“(I) just always thought it would be a thrill,” she said, according to WJLA. “At one point when we were tumbling in the air, I felt like I was by myself. I thought, ‘Where did the paratrooper go?’”
For the past decade Bailey had been wanting to go skydiving, and she was inspired when she saw then-90-year-old former President George H.W. Bush parachute from a plane in 2014.
I was inspired by the fact that he did it,” Millie said. “The fact that a person at that age could do the jump.”
Bailey was born in Washington, D.C., in 1918 and joined the U.S. Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1942, shortly after the United States entered World War II. Rising to the rank of first lieutenant, she later became commander of her WAC detachment unit. She served in a segregated army the entire time she was in the service.
Lt. Bailey was honorably discharged in 1946, and after working in the Veterans Administration and Social Security Administration until retirement, she has been committed for decades to serving her local community of Howard County, Maryland — where she has lived since 1970 — as well as active-duty servicemen. She estimated that she has sent 14 tons of care packages to soldiers overseas.
The series “Honor Flight Heroes,” which will feature Bailey on Veterans Day, covered the $300 fee for the veteran to skydive and filmed the adventure.
“You couldn’t ask for a more thrill-packed ending to the episode,” explained Eric J. Roberts, executive producer for the series. “Millie would be the first 102-year-old person on Mars if it could be arranged!”
Family members, county officials and Howard County residents were present for Bailey’s big jump.
When her instructor asked Bailey if she wanted to do it again, she replied: “Just once is enough!”
Bailey currently resides at an assisted-living community in Columbia, Maryland, where she is doing well considering her age.