Heroes Share Inspiring Tales of Triumph at “Beyond the Battlefield”
Posted on February 27th, 2013 by Rebecca Thompson
Now in its fifth year, Fantasy of Flight’s popular Legends & Legacies Symposium Series continues Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9 with a brand new event, “Beyond the Battlefield,” featuring an elite panel of aviation heroes who will share the wartime experiences and triumphs that prepared them for a life of leadership that lasted well beyond their military careers.
The compelling and historically significant Fifth Annual Legends & Legacies Symposium Series brings to life the experiences of some of America’s most courageous aviators through permanent and semi-permanent exhibits, real aircraft, and most importantly, their own personal stories and interactions with guests. The “Beyond the Battlefield” event will feature several open-forum/question-and-answer sessions as well as meet/greet autograph signings with retired Four-Star General, Arthur J. Lichte; Elizabeth “Betty” Wall Strohfus, a member of World War II’s Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP); retired Senior Master Sergeant Hal Millett, a World War II and Korean War veteran; and Ron Houston, World War II veteran and member of the British Royal Air Force.
Scheduled to appear at “Beyond the Battlefield” are:
Four-Star General Arthur J. Lichte: Gen. Lichte retired in 2010 after a nearly 40-year career with the United States Air Force. He most recently served as Commander of Air Mobility Command (AMC) at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, where he oversaw AMC’s mission to provide rapid, global mobility and sustainment for America’s armed forces and to provide humanitarian support at home and around the world. In addition, Gen. Lichte held headquarters-level assignments at Strategic Air Command, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Transportation Command. As a command pilot, he logged more than 5,000 flight hours on a dozen aircraft including the C-5, C-17, C-20, C-21, C-32, C-37, C-130, EC/RC-121, KC-10, KC-135, UH-1N and VC-137.
Elizabeth “Betty” Wall Strohfus: Strohfus had graduated from high school and was taking flying lessons when she first heard about the World War II WASP program. Just shy of 5’3″, the tiny pilot needed extra socks to help her meet the minimum height requirement, but she graduated among the first WASP class of 1944, the ninth WASP class overall. While most graduates opted for lower-risk assignments such as ferrying aircraft, Strohfus volunteered to fly pursuit aircraft, towing targets behind a B-26 for fighter target practice, and diving at bombers in pursuit aircraft and at infantry in the AT-6 for gunnery and anti-aircraft target practice. During her year of WASP service, she flew eight different aircraft including the B-17, B-26, P-39, and her favorite, the AT-6, often sitting on cushions to be able to reach the controls. Strohfus served as a WASP from 1943 until the program was discontinued in December 1944. In later years, Strohfus was central in lobbying congress for the recognition of WASP as veterans. She is a member of the Ninety Nines, Confederate Air Force and in 2001 was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame.
Senior Master Sergeant Hal Millett: A veteran of World War II and the Korean War, Millett served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in 1975 as a Senior Master Sergeant. Throughout his Air Force career, he served in many capacities, including Aircraft Flight Engineer, Aircraft Mechanic, Crew Member, Turret Gunner, Air Technical Intelligence Analyst and Teacher, Data Processing (IT) Superintendent, Programmer, and Analyst, Retail Manager, IT and General Business Managing Consultant. He also conducted Bomber Flight Testing and Weather Research with M.I.T. and the General Electric Corporation. He flew with a B-17 combat crew in World War II and flew a number of C-47 “Gooney Bird” rescue missions in the Korean War.
Ron Houston: Ron Houston joined the British Royal Air Force (RAF) at age 15, and traveled the world, including tours in Bahrain, Scotland, Gibraltar, Berlin, and Malta. He spent six months at North London and the Headquarters Fighter Command at Bentley Priory, an important location during World War II where Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding conducted the defense of London and the South East of England. He also served at the Royal Air Force station at Waddington, home of the Vulcan Bombers. His last year in the RAF was spent at the Ministry of Defense in London. After leaving the service, he worked in London at a stock broking company and Lloyds of London underwriting company.
“Our Legends & Legacies Symposium Series continues to grow and evolve each year. We are eager to hear from our panelists how their experiences in the military made them the leaders they are today,” said Kim Long, General Manager, Fantasy of Flight. “From a Four-Star General to a World War II and Korean War veteran to one of the nation’s very first female military pilots, we have an incredible panel of heroes lined up to share their amazing, ground-breaking stories of bravery and leadership.”
Remaining segments of the 2013 Legends & Legacies Symposium Series include: “The First World War,” April 6; “D-Day: Normandy & Beyond,” May 3-4; “Espionage: The Cold War,” Oct. 4-5 and “Veteran’s Day Salute: A Celebration of Service,” Nov. 9-10.
Symposium events are included in the price of Fantasy of Flight general admission and are free for annual pass holders. General admission is $29.95 for adults and $15.95 for children, ages 6-12, plus 7 percent sales tax. Children five and under are free with full paying adult. Group rates are available for groups of 15 or more; for more information, call 863-984-3500, ext. 220.
Mary Deatrick, DPR