Chehalis Resident and World War II Veteran, 97, Flies in 1940s Plane

Marge Foydl smiles and poses for a photo before her flight at the Chehalis-Centralia Airport Sunday morning.

Dream Flights: 97-Year-Old Marjorie Foydl Was Excited for Flight After Months of Isolation Due to Pandemic

Woodland Village in Chehalis is home to a few World War II veterans, but only one of them felt like heading to the Chehalis-Centralia Airport at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday morning for a joyride in a 1940s Boeing Stearman biplane — 97-year-old Marjorie Foydl.

The nonprofit organization “Dream Flights” is on a nationwide mission to put veterans in vintage planes.

Its quest has begun by flying members of the Greatest Generation.

“They are giving, across the country, all the World War II vets a chance to go up in these biplanes. They figured that it’s a pretty cool endeavor to give back a little bit to our war vets,” said Sharon Ripp, program coordinator at Woodland Village.

Foydl served in New York as a Yeoman in the U.S. Coast Guard in World War II recording interviews through shorthand notes.

Marge Foydl smiles while sitting in a plane before her flight flight at the Chehalis-Centralia Airport Sunday morning.

“We just went around to various places to take interviews. We could be in the hospital, we could be in prison,” Foydl said. “I had my original learning in Florida then I went up to New York.”

Born in Duluth, Minnesota, she followed in the footsteps of family who were also in the Coast Guard.

“I thought it would be kind of nice to get out of Duluth,” she said.

After the war, she and her husband of 43 years lived in Hawaii. She worked in Honolulu as an executive secretary and personnel director for an insurance company.

Once most of her friends there had died, her niece who lives in the area asked Foydl to move closer. She has been in Chehalis for eight years now.

Foydl recalled the hardships of being in a senior living facility throughout the pandemic, saying she felt disconnected from the outside world.

“I found it very lonely,” she said. “For fun I’d just get on the computer and play cards.”

So, the opportunity to get out of the house and up in a plane was a thrilling outing for her. And that’s exactly the feeling Dream Flights hopes to give to veterans.

After the flight, the pilot has lunch with the veteran and talks to them about their lives and experience in whichever branch of the military they served.

When asked about a standout memory from her time in the Coast Guard, Foydl told The Chronicle: “When the war was over New York went crazy. That was party time.”

To learn more about Dream Flights and how to schedule them for individual veterans or groups, go to dreamflights.org.