Rosie the Riveter Sees Her Work in Action 72 Years Later

Published 06/15 2014 10:32PM

Updated 06/15 2014 10:45PM

More than 6,000 P-47 Thunderbolts during WWII in Evansville. Sunday afternoon a special guest was able to see them fly over the Evansville riverfront.
"Rosie the Riveter" is a name for any woman who worked in factories during the war effort. One Rosie the Riveter was at the ShrinersFest Air Show to see what she built more than 70 years ago.
Most go to the air shows to see acrobatic airplanes attempt incredible stunts, but Gerry McFadin went to see her work in action.

A pair P-47 Thunderbolts zoom by the Evansville riverfront, but just as much attention was on someone in the crowd.

"You're the first Rosie the Riveter I've ever met," said someone in the crowd as she shook Gerry's hand.

"I just wanted to say thank you," said a young man to McFadin. "Well yeah you're welcome," she responded.

"It makes me feel wonderful. Like I really did something. I just worked, you know," said McFadin. From her perspective when she helped build the P-47 fighter planes she was simply doing what she could to help in the war like everyone else. "You didn't think about anything else. You were there and you were doing your part," said McFadin.

But to many others in the crowd she deserved to be recognized just the same as the pilots who flew the planes. "Gerald Dean I salute you. Ladies and gentleman why don't you give Gerald Dean McFadin a nice round of applause and thank her for her service," said air show announcer Rob Ryder.

Many gathered on the riverfront to witness history, but Gerry McFadin brought a piece a history with her. Her first paycheck she earned from working on the P-47's. She was paid 60 cents an hour, bringing her grand total for the week to $21.26, and that was fine by her. "I had no idea I was ever going to have a paycheck. A paycheck was like what? You know, something wonderful," said McFadin.

She also brought an original rivet from the assembly line in 1942. She says she couldn't imagine that she would be seeing the P-47 planes for the first time in action 72 years after she helped put them together.

McFadin says she plans to donate her historical items to a museum in Evansville.

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