Thursday, March 11, 2010

U.S. Government Kept Service of Women Air Force Pilots Secret

“All we ask is that our overlooked history would no longer be a missing chapter” in the history of aviation and the US, said Deanie Parrish, who accepted the gold medals on behalf of all WASPS.

This is a sobering reminder of why in 2010, women have 1 month out of every 12 months for women's history:

It took them more than 60 years to be recognized after their government attempted to hide their service, but on Wednesday, hundreds of female pilots who flew missions during World War II finally got their due. . .

These women volunteers, many of whom have since died, paid for their own pilot training and served the military during the early years of World War II in hopes of joining the military. They tested and ferried aircraft, freeing men for combat flying. Instead, two years later, the program ended and the women were summarily sent home when the military didn’t need them anymore. Their service was effectively sealed from the public for years.

Then the US Air Force announced in 1976 that female pilots would begin flying jets for the first time, essentially negating the WASP program. That angered many of the female pilots, who promptly organized an effort to have their story told. Later, their records were opened, and last year President Obama signed a bill to honor the women with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor Congress can bestow. About 300 of the pilots who are still alive were invited to Washington for the event.