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97-year-old 'Rosie the Riveter' shares lifetime tales with Girl Scouts at DCA

97-year-old 'Rosie the Riveter' shares lifetime tales with Girl Scouts at DCA. (Cheryl Conner/ABC7)

It was rock star treatment for a “Rosie the Riveter.”

Roses for the woman who wore the so-called man’s shoes at home during World War II.

About 100 Girl Scouts sang their theme song “Yes She Can” to welcome 97-year-old Elinor Otto to Reagan National Airport.

She signed autographs and shared stories.


“I built airplanes for 68 years. I was 95 when I quit,” Otto told Samia Courtney, who is new to Girl Scouts.

Otto is America’s longest working Rosie. She would still be working if the plant didn’t shut down.

“I just thought I was going to work, so what. All of a sudden people started appreciating what I did and I didn’t think about it,” said Otto.

It was physical. In fact, she credits the labor for helping her live a long life.

“Build the part. Drill them out. Drill the holes. Put rivets or whatever you were going to have to need, what fasteners you were going to need,” said Otto.


And her work has meaning for the young girls.

“Never give up on what I believe in. And keep on fighting when I really want to do something,” said Courtney.

“Be what I can be in my own time,” said Clara Neal, a Girl Scout.

“I always like to try new things and I think she did it in a bigger sense,” said Charlotte Jibbens, a Girl Scout.

Elinor Otto landed in D.C. just a day ahead of receiving the lifetime achievement award from the Air Force Association.


“Girls can do anything we set our minds to,” said Madeleine LeBeau, who helped plan the celebration at Reagan National Airport.

Otto is inspiring a new generation of Rosies.

“We thought well if they can do it, we can do it,” she said.

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