March 4, 2017 Faribault Municipal Airport renamed to Honor of WASP Elizabeth Wall Strohfus.
Elizabeth Wall Strohfus traveled the country for nearly 30 years sharing her story of flying fighters and bombers for the U.S. military during World War II.
She served as a parade grand marshal, participated in panel discussions, talked at schools, visited museums, gave countless interviews. But not until now has she been permanently honored and recognized in her hometown of Faribault.
What an honor for a woman who faced many challenges (simply for being a woman) before and after becoming a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot. She will be the first WASP to have an airport named after her.
That’s quite an accomplishment for Strohfus, who convinced a local banker to lend her $100 to join The Sky Club at the Faribault airport. The then 22-year-old used her bike as collateral and subsequently proved to the “women don’t fly” banker that he was wrong. She could fly. And fly she did, training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, with the first class of WASP to earn their wings. Strohfus went on to train infantry gunners for battle, teach instrument flying to male cadets and ferry B-17 and AT-6 warbirds around the country.
But when the war ended, the WASP received no recognition for their service to country. Eventually Strohfus, after retiring as an air traffic controller in the late 1980s, began efforts to correct that. She traveled the country sharing WASP stories in her signature down-to-earth storytelling style. She successfully lobbied for the WASP to be recognized as active military duty and for burial honors at Arlington National Cemetery. This strong and determined pilot also received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Yet, despite all the accolades, all the efforts, Liz Stohfus valued one thing above all. “Her favorite thing to do was to encourage kids,” son Art Roberts revealed at the City Council meeting. His mother repeated that in the many interviews she gave, telling youth that, “The sky is not the limit.” They could, like her, do anything.
Although she did not live long enough to see her hometown airport named after her, her legacy will live on in Faribault. In addition to new signage naming Liz Wall Strohfus Field, renowned local woodcarver Ivan Whillock is creating a woodcarving to be placed inside the airport. And Roberts will be donating items belonging to his mother.
Learn more about Liz Wall Strohfus in WASP PROFILES!