MINNEAPOLIS (KSMP) - Former WWII pilot Liz “Betty” Strohfus, who was still flying high at the age of 96, passed away on Sunday night.
Strohfus, a Woman Airforce Service Pilot (WASP), had a chance to board a B-17 at the AirExpo at Flying Cloud Airport in July. Up until her death, Strohfus shared her story in more than 30 states to shed light on a little known chapter in U.S. history.
"While she herself wanted to be buried with her family, she stood up for her fellow WASP sisters and fought for them to have the same rights as other veterans and to be given the option to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with the honors they deserve," Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Monday.
Ever since she was a little girl, Strohfus had her head in the clouds.
"I always wanted to get high. I have to explain that -- high in altitude. I'd sit on the roof. I'd climb in trees. Shimmy up poles. I just liked to get above it all,” she told Fox 9 last March.
She eventually got her wish and made history in the process. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Strohfus enlisted in 1943 and out of 25,000 applicants. She was one of just 1,800 picked to be a WASP. However, the reactions of her male counterparts often stung.
"Some of them tried to stop us by putting that darn sugar in the gas tanks. That really upset me, but they told me if I told on them, Congress was looking for any reason to shut down our group because they didn't want women flying military aircraft,” Strohfus told Fox 9.
For the next year and 6 months, Strohfus flew bombers between bases and on training missions. She even successfully lobbied Congress to finally recognize those female pilots as veterans.
"We did help our country, and I wanted to help our country, because it's my country, too. Not just the men's country," she said.