Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A TO Z CHALLENGE "W" IS FOR WASPS


Today we're talking about WASPS. No, not the insect kind that like to sting a person. We're talking about the brave women in the military, the WOMEN AIRFORCE SERVICE PILOTS, formed on August 5, 1943. Okay. I'm going back to the 1940s, WWII. So forgive me, but these women deserve our attention.

The WASPS was a paramilitary aviation organization. Each WASP had a pilot's license. They were trained to fly by the U.S. Army Air Forces at Avenger Field in Sweetwater. Texas. Over 25,000 women applied for the WASP, and less than 1,900 were accepted. After four months of military flight training, 1,074 earned their wings and were the first women to fly American military aircraft.
WASP WINGS
 

The women were not trained for combat, but their instruction was basically the same as for aviation cadets: no gunnery training and little formation flying and aerobatics.

After training they were stationed at 120 air bases across the U. S.  They flew 60 million miles of operational flights, freeing a male pilot for combat service and duties.

Thirty-eight WASP fliers lost their lives while serving during the war.

The WASP was considered civil service and did not receive military benefits.

 
Elizabeth L. Gardner, WASP, at the controls of a B-26 Marauder

On June 21, 1944, the House bill to give the WASP military status was narrowly defeated. The House Committee n the Civil Service (Ramspeck Committee) reported on June 5, 1944, that it considered the WASP unnecessary, unjustifiably expensive, and recommended that the recruiting and training of inexperienced women pilots be halted.

 
Photo by Lois Hailey, Class of 43–3 in January 1943—start of training
 
 
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed legislation  granting WASP corps full military status for their service. In 1984, each WASP was awarded the World War II Victory Medal.
 
On July 1, 2009, President Barack Obama and the U. S. Congress awarded the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal. Three of the roughly surviving WASPs were on hand to witness the event.
 
On May 10, 2010, the 300 surviving WASPs came to the Capitol to accept the Congressional Gold Medal from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Congressional leaders.
 
A couple weeks ago, our local newspaper ran a great article about A WASP pilot in the city who had just died. I think she was 94, not positive. These women deserve to be remembered.
 
Thanks for letting me go back another generation.
 
Happy Reading.


16 comments:

  1. This was great to read Beverly, I have never heard of "Wasp" before.
    Yvonne.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Yvonne. I didn't know much about them until I read the article in our newspaper about the WASP who passed away a couple of weeks ago. Her story was so fascinating I wanted to learn more about these women. So I did.

      Delete
  2. I haven't heard of them either, but it's good they were finally recognized for their service. It's kind of ironic that they were deliberately held back from combat roles and then not recognized because they didn't serve in a combat role!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Tamara. It's a shame they waited so long to recognize them.

      Delete
  3. They sure deserve to be remembered indeed. Sucks it took so long for them to get full recognition though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, they do, Pat. That's politics for you.

      Delete
  4. Amazing women...and what a clever name for a flying team!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it is neat, Stephanie. They were brave women is all I can say.

      Delete
  5. Great post, Beverly! Very interesting. I didn't know about this team at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Karin. I'd heard about them but never paid much attention until I read the newspaper article which made me curious.

      Delete
  6. I remember reading about the WASPS. Didn't they finally get official recognition and a government pension? A bit late, of course. Love how the government functions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Lee, they did. Too bad so many of them did not live to see their recognition. Yeah, the government takes its time, unless it benefits them.

      Delete
  7. what an amazing post! i knew about them, but i learned so much more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, djinnia. Appreciate you stopping by.

      Delete
  8. I was at a symposium on flying in the thirties a couple of weeks back, and a couple of presentations were on the ridiculous lengths women aviators had to go to. But in some ways, there was some encouragement for these women to be pioneers. It just seems that pioneering was okay, taking it up as an occupation was a no-no. I can think of plenty of other occupations where the same happened, but for your WASPs to be ignore for their wartime service is appalling.
    Great post
    Jemima Pett

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The symposium sounds interesting, Jemima. Women have always had to prove themselves it seems. They usually do a great job of it too.

      Delete