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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Honoring ALL our heroes

These were the first women to fly military aircraft. During World War II, they volunteered for noncombat duty, as test pilots and trainers. They freed up their male counterparts to go to Europe and fight in the war.

But even though they wore uniforms and worked on bases, they were never considered members of the military. Their contribution to the war effort was so controversial, in fact, that all records pertaining to their service were sealed and deemed classified in 1944. That pretty much consigned the WASP to the dustbin of history for decades.

Please, listen to the whole interview here.

As test pilots and trainers, the Women Airforce Service Pilots flew the same aircraft-- fighters and bombers-- and flew them as well as or better than their male counterparts going into combat.

Although they did not fly in combat themselves, their jobs were not without risk. Of the more than 1,100 WASP who enlisted, 38 died in the line of duty during WWII. However, remains were not shipped home to their families until a collection was taken up to pay for it, nor were caskets covered in the flag of the country they served, nor were their grieving families permitted a gold service star. Survivors were never recognized as veterans, nor entitled to benefits.

I'm glad they're trying to make it right now; but I honestly wish I could understand what it is about women's capabilities in different roles that makes some men feel so very threatened.


Anonymous Mrs. M said...

Great post, Jane Ellen.

Both of my grandmothers-- one in England, and one here in the States-- served during WWII, and I forget sometimes that it's not common knowledge that women played those roles.

July 05, 2009 8:46 AM  

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