By Mary Kay Gominger, Chief of Community & Public Affairs, Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
“Riding on the back on a motorcycle with my son is one of my fondest memories of Christmas day.”
Actually, a rather tame activity for Navy Veteran Marion Ritchie who went parasailing on her 98th birthday this past summer.
Ritchie will be enjoying Christmas dinner this week at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Biloxi, Mississippi. She couldn’t get all the transportation issues worked out for her planned trip to California to see some of her family, so she’ll get out there in the spring.
“I always had a good time at Christmas when all the kids were home.”
Reflecting on the 98 Christmases she has seen, Ritchie said, “I always had a good time at Christmas when all the kids were home and other relatives would come over. It was family time where relatives would bring their sleeping bags and put them out in the living room.”
Parasailing on her 98th birthday was very exciting, she said. She loved being up there seeing the coastline from that perspective and she may do it again in two years when she turns 100.
Ritchie has been enrolled in VA health care for the past 25 years and has received care at four VA health care systems through the years. She said she has had nothing but excellent care but then again, she is very healthy.
Enlisted in Navy in World War II
She decided to enlist in the Navy at the start of World War II because as a PBX switchboard operator, her job was boring. She went down to the recruiter’s office during her lunch break and enlisted. She wanted to do her part in the war effort but mostly she wanted to see the world. So, of course, after boot camp she was given orders to a base 20 miles from her home.
It wasn’t the exciting career she imagined but she did feel good about serving. As the end of the war drew near, she was transferred to Washington to assist with the paperwork involved with ending a war.
She has three children, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren. She enjoys quilting and is planning on taking computer classes at the Armed Forces Retirement Home, where she has lived for the past 17 years.
“Living at AFRH has helped me live a long and healthy life,” Ritchie says. “They take good care of me. Had I not served in the Navy, I wouldn’t have been eligible to live here.
“For the ladies out there that might be considering a career in the military, I say go for it,” Ms. Ritchie said. “There are wonderful opportunities out there and the benefits you get for serving can last a lifetime.”