Female World War II Air Force pilots honored at Rose Bowl parade

Photo: CNN

(CNN) - The annual Tournament of Roses parade delighted tens of thousands of people who lined the streets of Pasadena on New Year's Day, and one of this year's floats was a tribute to a brave group of women whose contributions during World War II are often overlooked.

In fact, if you looked closely among the blooms on display, you saw a few WASPs - and not the insects.

More than 70 years after they took to the skies, a group of Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP, for short) were honored. It was a tribute long overdue for trailblazers like 93-year-old Lorraine Rodgers.

Rodgers and her fellow WASPs tested planes, ferried them between factories and air bases and towed targets so men could practice shooting. Between 1942 and 1944, about 1,100 women pilots flew more than 60 million miles.

"I wanted to fly," Rodgers said. "Every time i was up, I could hardly believe it."

Thirty-eight WASPs died serving the United States, and this year's Rose Bowl float highlighted the often overlooked part of American history and the contribution they made to the war effort.

"These women are being saluted and I just think it's a great tribute," she said. "There isn't a day or an airplane that goes by the house that I don't think about it."