TWU Library receives $25,000 as WASP awarded 2010 Dole Leadership Prize for service during WWII
(Press release reprinted courtesy of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics)
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Melanie Coen or Maggie Mahoney
The 2010 Dole Leadership Prize will be presented to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II, on Sunday, October 3rd at the New Century AirCenter, Heart of America Wing in New Century, Kansas (outside Olathe). More than 1,000 women provided this courageous service in World War II. These are the first women to serve as pilots and fly military aircraft for the United States Army Air Forces, and they flew more than 60 million miles.
“The WASP played a critical, and until fairly recently, unheralded role in World War II,” said Bill Lacy, Director of The Dole Institute. “It is fitting that our first group award of the Dole Leadership Prize should be part of the Greatest Generation.”
The Dole Leadership Prize is a $25,000 prize that is awarded annually to an individual or group whose public service inspires others. This year’s cash award, in honor of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII, will be given to Texas Woman’s University to enhance the online availability of the WASP collection. Texas Woman’s University is home to the WASP national archives and is an integral facilitator of the WASP legacy.
The event will begin with family activities at 1 p.m., including a display of aircraft and free refreshments. The program will begin at 2 p.m., where three WASP—Bernice Haydu, Dawn Seymour, and Jean McCreery—and Katherine Landdeck, professor of history at Texas Woman’s University, are interviewed by Dole Institute Director Bill Lacy.
Between 1942 and 1944, at the height of World War II, more than a thousand women left homes and jobs for the opportunity of a lifetime--to become the first in history to fly for the U.S. military. They volunteered as civilian pilots in an experimental Army Air Corp program to see if women could serve as pilots and relieve men for overseas duty. Originally, 25,000 women applied to the program, 1,830 were accepted and 1,074 graduated from training. These women became the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II, better known as the WASP. Under the determined leadership of Jacqueline Cochran, Nancy Harkness Love, and General Henry "Hap" Arnold, the WASP succeeded beyond all expectations.
The WASP were originally stationed at the Howard Hughes Municipal Airport, Houston, Texas but were transferred to Avenger Field, Sweetwater, Texas in 1943. They received seven months of training including Primary, Basic, and Advanced training, the same as male cadets. The WASP were then stationed at 120 Army Air bases across the United States, where they flew 78 different types of aircraft, every aircraft the Army Air Corps flew, including the B-29. However, in 1944, with more than 900 women on duty, the WASP were deactivated due to military budget cuts.
Between 1944 and 1977, WASP, along with other supporters and state representatives worked to have their service be both officially recognized and no longer classified as “civilian”. In 1977, a bill officially declared the WASP as “having served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States for purposes of laws administered by the Veterans Administration.” In 1984, each pilot was awarded the World War II Victory Medal and those who served for over one year were also given the American Theater Ribbon and American Campaign Medal.
Finally, on July 1st, 2009, President Obama signed the bill that would lead Congress to award WASP the Congressional Gold Medal. The WASP received the medal on March 10, 2010 at a ceremony in Washington D.C.
WASP are the first group to receive the Dole Leadership Prize. Previous winners of the Dole Leadership Prize include former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala, former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former U.S. Senators Howard Baker and George McGovern, former Polish President Lech Walesa, Congressman John Lewis, and former President George H.W. Bush.
This program is free to the public and parking at The New Century AirCenter is ample and free. For more information on the Dole Institute of Politics or the Dole Leadership Prize, please visit www.doleinstitute.org .
The 2010 Dole Leadership Prize is made possible with the support of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Ladies Auxiliary.
Special thanks to The Heart of America Wing of the Commemorative Air Force and New Century AirCenter.
Director of Media Relations
page updated 3/3/2015 2:10 PM