16:38 PM

Minn. Cadet's Entry Wins Air Force Recruiting Service's WASP Essay Contest

Cadet Capt. Remy Lloyd of the Minnesota Wing’s Owatonna Composite Squadron submitted the winning entry in the U.S. Air Force Recruiting Service’s essay contest on “How have the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) inspired you and why?” in honor of Women’s History Month.

For her first-place essay Lloyd will receive a “Pilot for a Day” trip that includes meeting Air Force pilots and taking an orientation flight, as well as receiving a flight logbook and Air Force promotional gear.

Her entry edged out two others from Air Force Junior ROTC cadets — Zachary Johnson of the Springfield High School Junior ROTC in Springfield, Tennessee, who submitted the second-place essay, and Abigail Knippel of Lincoln-Way Central High School Junior ROTC in New Lenox, Illinois, who placed third.

Cadets’ squadron commanders chose the top essay from their unit, then forwarded it to the Air Force Recruiting Service’s Detachment 1, which judged the contest after receiving about 100 submissions. Essays were limited to 500 words.

“I appreciated the opportunity to put my writing skills to good use and honor such an outstanding role model as Betty Strohfus,” Lloyd said upon being notified that hers was the winning entry.

Strohfus, who served in both CAP and the WASPs during World War II, was a neighbor of Lloyd’s in Faribault, Minnesota.

“Betty’s story is one full of rebellion, spite and valor, and, though we conversed but a few times is one that will inspire me for years to come,” Lloyd wrote.

“As a young girl, Betty became interested in aviation and pursued her dream of becoming a pilot by joining Civil Air Patrol as a cadet,” the cadet said. “She joined an all-male pilot club, served in the WASPs, was rejected by a major airline to be a pilot, and eventually settled to be an aircraft controller after the WASPs were disbanded.

“Each of these events alone would have been considered ‘taboo’ in her day, yet she showed outstanding commitment and bravery throughout all of them, all in order to achieve the dream she had as a young girl: to be a pilot.

“Betty broke barriers and set the stage for young girls all over the world from her first flight as a WASP in 1943 all the way until the day she died in 2016.”

Lloyd, who joined CAP five years ago, helped honor Strohfus at her funeral as a member of a Civil Air Patrol honor guard and also by presenting the colors at a ceremony in which Strohfus received a replica of CAP’s Congressional Gold Medal for her service to the fledgling organization during the earliest days of World War II.

“Betty proved to the world that girls can: they can be pilots, they can hold their own, and they can do anything they set their mind to,” Lloyd wrote. “Hard work, dedication and persistence will take a young woman a long way ... and now it’s up to me to follow.”