Posted at: 09/15/2012 7:20 PM
By: Brittany Lewis
World War II Vet Encourages Others to Share Their Stories
(ABC 6 News) -- Today, women make up a significant part of the U.S. Mililtary, but in the 1940s, that was somewhat unheard of. 93-year-old Elizabeth Strohfus developed a love for flying at a young age and now holds a Congressional Medal of Honor as part of her service.
She has an infectious laugh and is a social butterfly of sorts and is one of the first women in the U.S. to fly military planes.
"I always wanted to be high and get to the top of things," said Strohfus.
A title usually reserved for men, suited her.
"I liked to do all of the things the fellas do," she said.
She fell in love with flying after her first flight. From there, she worked at an airport, and eventually was asked to be part of the sky club.
"So 14 fellas and me belonged to the sky club," she added.
Being around all those fellas, never shook her confidence.
"I said oh well, I wanna take flying lessons. Oh he says, women don't fly. I said this one's going to."
And she did fly. In 1942, she joined the Woman Air Force Service Pilots, or WASPS, and eventually trained other pilots during World War II.
"They tell you a little bit about it, you just take off and find out what it does," said Strohfus.
But that only lasted a year. When the war ended, men fighting overseas wanted their jobs back. And the women? Well, the records of them flying, were sealed.
"The training and the whatever else was needed during that time and not a word about us," she added.
And they remained sealed for 35 years. But finally, in 1977, the women were recognized as veterans. And in 2009, were given the Congressional Medal of Honor.
"Well you know they let me fly airplanes so I couldn't hold too much against them," said Strohfus.
Today, she focuses on other veterans. Saturday, she was at the St. Ansgar American Legion encouraging them to share their stories- to ensure the memories of war are never sealed again.
Strofus is the last living WASP in our area. She's been to 28 states telling children and other veterans her story.
Next, she heads to where it all began for her-Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.