Female Flyers of WWII-The Unsung Heroes
Some would say they were the best keep secret of WWII. The female Air Force Service Pilots known as the Fifinellas proved their skill and valor, bursting through the gender barriers during the height of World War II. For the next 2 days, in Polk City, 3 WASP veterans will share their stories During the Fantasy of Flight. A symposium called “A Passionate Pursuit” to honor the unsung heroes.
Jacqueline Cochran, the first woman to break the sound barrier, who went on to create the special squadron in 1942, even trained other cadets to fly, and other various tasks, including towing non-propelled gliders. “About 300 of the pilots who were in the WASP squadron are still alive,” said Nancy Parrish. The founder of Wings across America, and a daughter of a WASP Pilot spearheads the organization that has recorded women’s experiences, and also said about 2 dozen live in Florida.
And while the military and most history books ignored their contribution to the war effort, they faced live ammunition rounds as they soared through the air, simulating enemy planes for Army cadets to fire at for target practise. That type of exercise today would be tantamount to murder, and I fail to see why charges are not considered as more information about this comes to light. In fact, 38 of the brave fifinella pilots were killed by accidents, or friendly fire. In fact it wasn’t till 3 decades after the war, in 1977, the United States Congress granted them Military status, which among other things, gave them the respect they deserved and made them eligible for Veteran benefits.
It was the late Walt Disney that gave the WASP’s their insignia, an elfish character tough as nails and ready for anything. It was created for a movie that never did come in to being, (Mr. Spielberg what are you waiting for) but in 1943 the rights were given to Roald Dahl for the book “Gremlins”. Additional recognition may be on the way for these brave aviators. Last year 17 U.S. Senators co-sponsored a bill to award them the Congressional medal of honor.
Some of the men called them girls, but make no mistake. The members of WASP are heroes, and they deserve to be heralded for their ground breaking service. It was their moxy that opened the door to female pilots in the Air Force.
Today they are being awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, a little late but I’m glad they are being recognized for their sacrifices and contributions.