Libraries

Militarization

Members of the WASP Militarization Committee (l to r) Lee Wheelwright (43-W-6), Dora Strother (43-W-3), Bee Haydu (44-W-7), Byrd Granger (43-W-1), Margaret Boylan (43-W-2), Doris Tanner (44-W-4), Col. Bruce Arnold with Senator Barry Goldwater (seated).

This amazing experiment using women pilots during wartime seemed destined to be forgotten. Then, in the mid-1970s, the Navy announced to the media that, for the first time in history, women would be permitted to fly military planes. The announcement reverberated among the WASP, and like nothing else, mobilized them to secure their long overdue veterans status. With the help of Bruce Arnold, Gen. Hap Arnold’s son, and political help from Sen. Barry Goldwater, a World War II veteran who had commanded WASP in his squadron, the WASP finally earned their veterans status in 1977.

In 2010, the WASP were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by the United States Congress. Over 250 surviving WASP were on hand in our nation’s Capital to receive the honor.

WASP class 44-W-5 at an informal reception following the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony