Today in Washington, D.C. the surviving members of the WWII Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) received a Congressional Medal of Honor. These women flew the airplanes that were produced at defense plants during WWII -- often risking their lives. 38 died in the line of duty.
Because of the shortage of male pilots during the war, these women who were already civilian pilots learned how to fly every plane manufactured. They were not recognized as part of the military and received minimal pay and no benefits. When they died, their families had to pay for their funerals.
Before the war ended, the military disbanded the WASP because of complaints from male pilots returning home that women should not be flying the planes. It was not until the 1970's that Congress finally recognized these women and granted them honorable discharges and veterans status.
Among the most famous of the WASP was Barbara Erickson London who at the age of 23 commanded the women at the Long Beach Army Airfield. Erickson received an Air Medal for her service during the war -- the only WASP to receive the award.
Check out the US Defense Dept website on these women and the information concerning the Congressional Medal of Honor.
You can also check out my two books on Long Beach history that include information about the WASP and Erickson during WW II: "Rosie the Riveter in Long Beach" and "Early Aviation in Long Beach" -- both published by Arcadia and available at any local bookstore.
Also check out the historical display at the Long Beach Municipal Airport on the WASP.
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If you contact Gerrie Schipske through this site on any matter pertaining to the City of Long Beach, a copy of your contact will be forwarded to her official city email as an official public record.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
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