- Historic Sites
Flight Of The Wasp
The Women Airforce Service Pilots seemed strange and exotic to World War II America. In fact, not even the military could quite fiqure out what to do with them.
Spring 2009 | Volume 59, Issue 1
Arnold’s summation was soon forgotten. The WASP pilots themselves were in a sense responsible, soft pedaling their experience and declining to speak about it when husbands and brothers recalled their supposedly more important wartime experiences. But the women kept in touch, and they eventually launched a campaign for full military recognition. In 1976 the U.S. Air Force announced that it would begin accepting women cadets into their corps, a decision hastened by the end of the draft. Once again women had been invited into the military to counterbalance a shortage of men—but as the WASP alumnae knew, despite media reports, this would not mark the first time women had flown for the U.S. military. Motivated by the new developments, they began a campaign to receive the military status that they had been denied 30 years earlier. Congress finally passed such a bill in 1977 that President Jimmy Carter signed into law. But the law did not make many of the military benefits retroactive. Two years later the secretary of the Air Force announced a further step toward recognition. The members of the WASP program—the women who had served in a service that wasn’t ready to accept them—were now considered to be veterans.