Elaine Harmon, a World War II pilot, was honored Wednesday when her ashes were buried at Arlington National Cemetery, fulfilling her final wish almost a year and a half after her death.
Harmon, who died in April 2015 at age 95, had been a member of “the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, a first-of-its-kind Army unit made up of women who flew planes and trained men to do the same during World War II,” The New York Times reported.
The Army laid Harmon's remains to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, where she joined many other fellow veterans.
Harmon asked to be buried at the cemetery in a letter that was left inside a fireproof file box and found by the family after her death, the Times noted.
“Even if there are no ashes left, I would like an empty urn placed at Arlington,” she said in the letter.
President Obama signed legislation in May allowing for Harmon and other female pilots to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Members of the Chick Fighter Pilots, a group of women who fly F-16s taking down enemy planes, were among many who paid their respects to the pioneering aviator Wednesday, The Washington Post reported.
“Please know how much she helped change the world,” Maj. Heather “Lucky” Penney told Harmon’s family, a family that fought hard against a ban from the Army that “refused to recognize female WWII pilots for burial in the cemetery,” The Washington Post noted.
Penney represents female pilots who fight for their country as she came to the aid during 9/11. She “scrambled over Washington on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, on a potential suicide mission to take down Flight 93 before it could hit Washington,” The Washington Post noted.
“Look at any female aviator and please know she is still alive,” Penney said, referring to Harmon as her “spiritual grandmother.”
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