This last week, the very first women to fly army planes were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, more than fifty years after their service.
When I was younger, I learned a lot about these amazing women who took control of airplane transport during World War II while the men were at war. Everything that I have learned about these women astounds me. About six years ago, I became fascinated with World War II, and started interviewing pilots who flew in that war. They remembered those women more fondly than I expected.
I heard one story about the B-25 plane. The male pilots refused to fly it because they believed it to be too dangerous. General Hap Arnold figured out the solution... Have the women fly the plane. He gathered five WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) and had them fly the plane where the men could see it. They were cheering and excited until the pilots landed and they saw who was flying it. After that, General Arnold didn't have any trouble convincing the men to fly the B-25. If women could do it, so could they.
After the war, afraid men wouldn't have anything to do, the WASP program was cut without any honors. The women who had sacrificed everything to serve their country weren't even given veterans status. No benefits, no thank you. Just good bye.
In the seventies, the women were finally awarded veteran status, but it isn't until last week that they received a congressional medal of honor.
Want to know what the women wore. It is pretty scandalous... Pants! Check out an interactive WASP paper doll at www.wingsacrossamerica.us.