Just in time for Women’s History Month celebrations, a brave group of female veterans of WW II are finally being honored. Following on last year’s award by Congress of the Congressional Gold Medal (the highest civilian award) the WASPs (Women AirForce Service Pilots) received their award this week.
It’s a real shame that most people don ‘t know about these brave women and how our own country failed to give them the respect and honor they deserve. These 1,074 brave WASPs were denied military rank and veterans benefits until 1977.
My father, a bombardier and navigator of B-24s in WW II, spoke fondly of these skilled women who tested aircraft, served as live flying target practice for male fighter pilots in training and ferried planes for their male counterparts, in all logging over 60 million miles. It wasn’t a safe role, 38 were killed in the line of duty.
After the war’s end, they were unceremoniously dismissed and they returned to their homes and families to serve in more traditional roles. A few years ago NPR accumulated radio diaries from many of the WASPs. it would be a good project for your children to listen to thse audio diaries and reflect on the courage it took for them to serve their country as pilots.
And to the 170 surviving WASPs and the families of the 904 deceased veterans, a heartfelt Congratulations!