Ten Colorado WASPs Honored With Congressional Gold Medal


March 11 2010, 10:18 AM

Ever since World War II, Millicent Young, 87, one of the war's Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, has recalled the day she landed a plane at a New Mexico airfield, surprising a man in the ground crew. "'You shouldn't be flying the airplane. I should be flying the airplane; I'm the man,'" Young recounts to The Denver Post. "I said, 'Honey, if you'd been in here, I would have noticed.'" The good-humored Young, who wore her uniform tunic in Washington, D.C., yesterday, is among a group of female pilots who gathered to receive a long-overdue honor: the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor Congress can give. Hundreds of WASPs, each one an aviation pioneer who broke the gender barrier---including 10 from Colorado---received the medal for volunteering to participate in some six million miles of noncombat missions during the war; 38 died in those years. U.S. Senator Mark Udall helped sponsor the legislation: "Not only did their service help us win the war, it paved the way for all of the women military and civilian pilots who followed in their footsteps---including my mother, a pilot who loved the freedom of the skies just like these women did," he says in a news release.