U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and a bipartisan group of her colleagues in the Senate and House called on the U.S. Army this week to allow female World War II pilots to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Army currently does not permit Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) to be interred at Arlington.
According to a release, Klobuchar was joined at an event this week by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), along with Rep. Martha McSally (R-Arizona) and Susan Davis (D-California), as well as family members of WASPs, to bring attention to this important issue.
Last week, Elizabeth “Betty” Strohfus, a native of Faribault, who was one of the last remaining WASPs, passed away at the age of 96.
Strohfus served in the Civil Air Patrol during WWII before leaving Faribault for Sweetwater, Texas, where she joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).
Following her training there, she was stationed at Las Vegas Army Airfield and flew hundreds of missions to help train airborne and infantry gunners as well as fighter pilots.
Strohfus also taught male cadets how to fly warplanes and ferried B-17 bombers across the country during World War II.
Out of the 25,000 women who applied to become WASPs, Strohfus was one of 1,800 accepted and one of 1,074 who graduated.
“During World War II, more than 1,000 Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) served in the United States military. While we aren’t going to be able to change history, we can change how they’re honored,” Klobuchar said. “I had the honor of getting to know one of them, Betty Strohfus of Faribault, who passed away at the age of 96 last week. While Betty 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. I will continue to work with my colleagues until all these brave women have the honors they deserve.”
Klobuchar has been a strong advocate for allowing Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The Army recently reversed the policy to allow WASPs to be interred at Arlington.
Klobuchar sent a letter in January to the Secretaries of Defense and Army requesting that the Army allow the brave women who flew missions during World War II to have their ashes laid to rest at the cemetery.
The U.S. Senator met with Strohfus in Faribault in January to discuss this issue with her. She is also a supporter of bipartisan legislation that would allow WASPs to be buried at Arlington.
Strohfus’ burial took place Annunciation Catholic Church in Hazelwood, with military honors. At the close of the service, two WWII-era airplanes similar to the ones Strohfus flew while training male pilots and gunners before they served in combat theaters did a flyover.