(WJBK) - Marine veteran Tillie Medvid has accomplished many things over her lifetime. She's a mother, grandmother, wife, Marine and retired teacher. But there's one thing the 94-year-old had left on her bucket list: attending a United States Marine Corps Birthday Ball.
The daughter of Ukraine immigrants, Tillie grew up in Detroit. After high school, she decided to attend Wayne State University to study education, which was quite the feat for a woman who had begun kindergarten unable to speak English.
In Tillie's senior year at Wayne State, America was thrust into World War II with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Men were sent to fight. By the time Tillie graduated, women across America were hard at work supporting the war effort in various ways.
In 1943, Tillie joined that effort by working at the Chrysler Tank Arsenal in Detroit, but a campaign to enlist women in the military intrigued her.
"I went to the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard - all of them. And frmo the way they handled me, I liked the Marines the best. I picked them out from all the rest," she says.
Tillie landed on the Marine Corps, and soon found herself in Camp LeJeune, North Carolina.
After graduating Marine Corps bootcamp and attending several schools, Tillie became a radio operator stationed in San Francisco deciphering radio code used to resupply troops on the front lines of the Pacific. Tillie went on to serve honorably in the Marine Corps, before receiving an honorable discharge in December of 1945 and then pursuing her Master's Degree at the University of Colorado.
She would go on to teach in Florida and Detroit before moving to Los Angeles, where she worked for the Unified Glendale School District for 20 years as an elementary teacher.
Now, with two daughters and five grandchildren, she looks back on a life filled with accomplishment, patriotism, honor and love. But still, her wish remained - to attend a Marine Corps Birthday Ball.
On November 13, 2015, Tillie made it to the Marine Corps Birthday Ball - a day nearly 70 years in the making.
From the factories of Detroit to the shores of the Pacific in San Francisco, Tillie's journey as a Marine, teacher, wife, mother and grandmother has taken her across the country. And, as one of the pioneers for females in the Marine Corps, her legacy is one that will not soon be forgotten.