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.