Operation HerStory GinnyNarsete TWFor Women's History Month, we will be featuring some of the brave women whose stories will be shared during our Women's History Month Panel. Ginny Narsete was a Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force. She served active duty 1973 to 1978 and in the reserve 1977 to 2003. During her time in the Air Force, she was stationed at England Air Force Base in Louisiana, Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, and with the O'Hare Reserve Unit here in Illinois. She is also a founder of Operation HerStory, and will be the guest speaker at our panel.

On why she joined: "Education, GI Bill, and career choices, as well as to be part of History and support our troops in Vietnam"

On her service and how her gender impacted her duties: "I served my active duty time as administrative assistant. I then changed to Public Affairs when I entered the Air Force Reserve.

"Women were not given jobs beyond desk positions, typing, or medical. We were also held back from commanding, especially  any type of flying unit, getting promotions like our brothers."

On her memorable experiences: "Traveling as a photojournalist, writing stories, and working alongside my friends. I also traveled throughout South America, Europe, Korea and Japan."

On building relationships with other women in service, supporting one another, and staying in touch after serving: "Building relationships with other women was important. It's all we had. We supported each other by doing things together like hobbies, church and naturally bonding.

"Sexual harassment was rampant and no where to go for help, so we pretty much kept to ourselves. The women I served with were very protective of each other. Many of us still keep in touch. My boss was very protective, in fact too protective, he was like a dad protecting his daughters."

On life after service: "After serving, it only got better. My passion for the military experience only meant something when I paid it forward in helping others and keeping the women mission alive. A perfect example is serving on boards, with the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, with the American Legion, and as the founder of Operation HerStory with several other women."

On her favorite memories from the Operation HerStory flight: "Bonding with other female veterans, sharing stories and now keeping in touch. Many of us are continuing to serve and mentor our younger troops. Mostly building relationships with Legion Riders in Naperville, younger female veterans and praising those who helped."

On joining other women veterans for the flight: "I loved it!!!  Such great bonding and sharing stories!!"

On what she would like community members to know about her experience as a woman in the military: "Invite women veterans to tell their stories to your community organizations. Women who served were strong, built character and strength to defend our country. I'm proud we stuck with the military, served with pride, and broke the glass ceiling to fight for equality. Interestingly, the men I served with supported our role.

"Most importantly, make those women who served visible so our stories will be told. The women in the military fought for many firsts. It hasn't changed. Operation HerStory fought hard to even get the first all women's flight. We found the women through grassroots outreach and raised all the money for the flight. Also Col. Jennifer Pritzker, the VFW, the American Legion, the McCormick Foundation and the Daughters of the American Revolution believed in us."

On how the flight came about: "It started as an assignment in DAR to work with Honor Flight. After much research, it was clear women on the flights were non-existent except for 2 or 3 women a year. So I began researching why women on these flights were not invited. Then the work began! Little effort was made to reach out before, but then Operation HerStory was born to create an all female flight."

On what "We served together and we were visible, together" means to her: "We found each other through a lot of ground operations and promised to make ourselves visible to all Americans."

On how the flight came together and the support it received: "Flight came together with a lot of organizations who wanted to recognize the women who served. The community and other organizations like the Naperville American Legion, the VFW and the DAR all supported us. The Pritzker Military Museum & Library donated a generous grant and their library to hold meetings and press events."

"Honor Flight came in 9 months after Operation HerStory was founded. OHS located the 93 women veterans and funds to pay for the trip. Honor Flight arranged the transportation and cheering crowds. The community, meaning the whole country, praised the women heroes."

On what's next: "To become more visible and hopefully we will be part of more parades, receive speaker support, and tell our stories at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library oral history program. Then add in social events, golf, lunches, museums and possibly more trips! Overall we found each other. Time to find more!"

naper settlement rNAPERVILLE – Three local museums are set to receive more than $1.8 million in Public Museum Capital Grants, State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) and State Representative Janet Yang Rohr (D-Naperville) announced on Friday.

“Local museums and exhibits provide priceless, hands-on learning opportunities for families in our community,” Ellman said. “I’m pleased to see investment in these invaluable institutions right here in our back yards. These grants will create jobs and preserve our museums for future generations to enjoy.”

The Illinois Public Museums Capital Grants Program, overseen by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, is open to any museum operated by local government or located on municipally owned land. Public museums are eligible to receive up to $750,000 through the program, and matching funds may be required based on museum attendance levels.

“Not only do our museums offer fun and immersive educational opportunities, they bring families from across Illinois to our community—driving the local economy and boosting tourism,” Yang Rohr said. “We are lucky to have these fantastic institutions in our community, and I’m glad to see them receive this well-deserved investment.”

The following local museums were selected to receive grants:

  • The DuPage Children’s Museum - $302,700 to create a “Questioners: Think. Question. Read. Play!” exhibit
  • Naperville Heritage Society - $749,700 for a Naper Settlement Digital Experience Welcome Zone
  • Wheaton Park District - $750,000 for restoration and stabilization of historic masonry in the DuPage County Historical Museum

More information about the Illinois Public Museum Capital Grants Program is available online.

Ellman is also encouraging residents interested in visiting local museums to reach out to her district office to access her museum resource education card. Use of the card is completely free, and constituents may check out the card for two consecutive days to admit the cardholder and three guests to many local institutions. A full list of participating institutions can be viewed on Ellman’s website, and her office can be reached at 630-601-9961. Interested residents are asked to reserve the card three business days in advance of their anticipated visit.

Operation HerStory Ludwig TWFor Women's History Month, we will be featuring some of the brave women whose stories will be shared during our Women's History Month Panel. Betsy Valentine Ludwig was a Captain in the United States Air Force Nurse Corps. She served in the obstetrical unit at Malmstorm Air Force Base in Great Falls, MT, from 1970 to 1971, and with the surgical and air-evacuation units at Clark Air Base in the Phillippine Islands from 1971 to 1972.

On why she joined: "My Dad was in WWII and I knew that if I was a guy (during this time of the Vietnam conflict), I might have been drafted. So, by me offering my assistance as a nurse, I felt that I was contributing to my country. My Dad’s unspoken courage and patriotism had influenced my determination to ‘do what I could’ to care for those in need, medically...whether it be physical or emotional.

"I would like members of our community to know that the military is not only made up of those who have to pick up arms to support a cause. There are numerous needs that are ever-present, in order to preserve and defend our freedoms."

On her memorable experiences: "Being away from home was difficult, especially around the holidays. But, we were ALL away from home! And, somehow, each one of us (patients, staff, and our fellow servicemen and women) became 'family' to one another!

"I met my husband-to-be while stationed overseas. When I was discharged from the Air Force, several of my military co-workers/staff flew to New York to be at my wedding. I was indeed, so proud to introduce them to my family and friends at my wedding."

On Operation HerStory: "I was astounded that there were SO MANY PEOPLE who wanted to show appreciation and acknowledgment to women who served. Whether we served for two years or made a career in the military, we were all so very overwhelmed at the outpouring of love and attention that was showered upon us, on our special day, Oct. 6, 2021. Being greeted by hundreds of people at both airports literally took my breath away. Perhaps no one could tell, but my mask was (thankfully) absorbing the moisture that was coming from my eyes.  Tears of joy...tears of deep pride.

"My ‘guardian’ Kathy was absolutely wonderful. She was so attentive and sincere! By the end of the day, I felt like I had gained a ‘sister.’ If I were to say one thing I regret that day, it would be that I didn’t make time to talk to other women, and ask them about their story.’"

Women r rNAPERVILLE – State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) and State Representative Janet Yang Rohr (D-Naperville) are teaming up to host a virtual discussion with retired U. S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ginny Narsete in celebration of Women’s History Month and newly-announced Women Veterans Recognition Month in Illinois. The panel will be held on Wednesday, March 16, at 7 p.m. via Facebook live.

“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Women’s History Month than speaking with women from our community who have played a first-hand part in shattering glass ceilings for an entire generation of women and girls,” Ellman said. “We have so much to learn from these trailblazers and their unwavering courage, and I’m honored to be part of the conversation.”

Narsete and fellow service member Navy Reserve Judge Lis Pennix are the founders of Operation HerStory, an organization founded to serve women veterans and highlight their often forgotten contributions. Narsete and her team have made it their mission to take women veterans from across Illinois on veterans flights to Washington, D.C. Veterans making the one-day trip have the opportunity to visit the war memorials built in their honor, including the Women in Military Service For America Memorial and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.

Operation HerStory completed its first all-women veterans flight on Oct. 6, 2021. The flight consisted of 93 women veterans who served during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War era. Narsete credits Daughters of the American Revolution, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Pritzker Military Foundation on behalf of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, the DuPage Foundation, the American Legion, the McCormick Foundation, and many other organizations for embracing women veterans and helping to make the flight possible.

“All service members deserve thanks and recognition for the sacrifices they’ve made for our country, but far too often our women in uniform are left out or forgotten,” Yang Rohr said. “This Women’s History Month, we have an opportunity to speak with brave women from across our community and highlight a fantastic organization that is working hard to give back to the women veterans who have given so much to us.”

The Operation HerStory team raised over $170,000 to self-fund the all-women’s flight. They used grassroots community outreach to find women veterans from across the state and encouraged them to be part of the inaugural flight. These trailblazing veterans who made the flight possible continue to support Operation HerStory and uphold its mission of bringing women veterans out of the woodwork to make their stories known.

Operation HerStory has made it a goal to encourage Honor Flight Chicago to invite at least 20 women per flight instead of one woman veteran for every fifth flight. There are currently 46,000 female veterans in Illinois. Roughly 7,000 are from the WW2, Korean and Vietnam War eras, and are eligible for upcoming Illinois Honor Flights.

“Operation HerStory was created to ensure that each and every woman veteran was visible and able to tell HerStory of her military experience,” Narsete said. “Operation HerStory will continue to support any individual or organization who would like to uplift women veterans as they tell their stories of groundbreaking and historic service to our country.”

During the virtual panel, Ellman, Yang Rohr and Narsete will discuss Operation HerStory and hear stories from some of the women who participated in the inaugural flight. Questions about the panel can be directed to Ellman’s office at 630-601-9961 and SenatorLauraEllman.com, or Yang Rohr’s office at 630-296-4157 and RepYangRohr.com. More information about Operation HerStory is available on the organization’s website.

Narsete and her team are also inviting women veterans from across Illinois to march in the Beverly Memorial Day parade in Beverly, Ill. Interested veterans can reach out to Narsete at 740-228-1099 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

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Contact Info

District Office
475 River Bend Rd., Suite 500
Naperville, IL 60540
Phone: (630) 601-9961

Springfield Office
M113 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: (217) 782-8192