WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) signed on to legislation that, if passed, would award the Congressional Gold Medal to surviving Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II. Twelve members of WASP currently live in Washington state. Between 1942 and 1944, young women from across the country volunteered for flight training and service. They were America’s first women to fly military aircraft, and were recruited to fly non-combat missions. When the war ended, 1074 female pilots received their pilot wings, and all told, they had flown over 60 million miles around the world.
“The women of the Women Airforce Service Pilots were not just part of the Greatest Generation, they were trailblazers who had a tremendous impact on the role of women in the military today,” said Cantwell. “By honoring these American heroines with the Congressional Gold Medal, we can finally commend and celebrate their courage, loyalty, and service to country that brought about a historic change in our armed services and our nation.”
Following the war, each female pilot was ordered to leave the military. Women who lost their lives while serving their country were denied military honors, and surviving pilots were denied military benefits. It wasn’t until 1977 that the WASP women were provided the benefits they deserved.
Of the 1074 who received their wings as Women Airforce Service Pilots, approximately 300 are alive today and 12 live in Washington state.
Washington state Women Airforce Service Pilots:
Lois (Dobbins) Auchteronie, Anacortes
Mary “Pat” (Hiller) Call, Mount Vernon
Nancy A. (Nordhoff) Dunnam, Bellevue
Elizabeth I. (White) Dybbro, Des Moines
Margaret E. (Neyman) Martin, Oak Harbor
Marjory V. (Foster) Munn, Seattle
Elizabeth (Keatts) Munoz, Pomeroy
Dorothy (Kocher) Olsen, University Place
Andrea (Shaw) Shaw, Carnation
Mary B. (Barnes) Sturdevant, Tacoma
Josephine (Keating) Swift, Seattle
Alta C. (Corbett) Thomas, Sequim
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