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Charlie & Debbie

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TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 15: A historical P-51 Mustang aircraft performs during the T150 Defence Force Air Show on October 15, 2016 in Townsville, Australia. The Air Show forms part of Townsville's 150th celebrations. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Tom Brokaw was the first person I heard use the term “Greatest Generation” to describe the Americans who were young adults in the WWII era.

The collective unity and sacrifice(s) they made on behalf of the betterment of our country and the world is without precedence before or since.

And it’s the “little stories” that I find from this era that intrigue me most.

Take for example Dorothy Eleanor Olsen, a member of a group of civilian volunteers who flew planes across the country during World War II.

She flew about 60 missions as part of the 6th Ferry Group of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Although WASP members did not fight or see any combat overseas, they did haul targets for shooting practice and performed other flying duties. In other words, they did their part to win the war, yet WASPs were not recognized as veterans until 1977 under President Jimmy Carter.

It was the right thing to do.

Dorothy Elanor Olsen was stationed at Long Beach Army Air Base in California from 1942-1944, flew about 60 missions as part of the 6th Ferry Group, and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.

And she passed away at the age of 103 on July 23 in University Place, Washington.

According to her daughter, Jule Stanburg, Olsen flew about 29 different aircraft, but her favorite was the P-51, the legendary “Mustang” pictured above.

She goes on to say that her mother didn’t fly after she and her brother were born and didn’t even think of flying commercial or private planes.

“She said, ‘Why would I want to fly a Cessna when I’ve flown a P-51?’.”

God speed Mrs. Olsen, and thank you for your service.