Tag Archive | army air corps

Unforgettable Accomplishments

MondayYesterday was Monday. A new beginning of the week. A clean slate for starting a diet or a new goal of any kind. I often wonder why our calendar starts on Sunday because Monday is really the pivotal day for most of us.

On Monday of this week, I finished the rewrite on my eighth novel. I felt so accomplished to send this work off to the editor for her to work through my grammar and punctuation boo boos. As I’ve discussed before, editing and proofreading needs to be done by somebody who hasn’t written the work. Our smarty-pants brains only see what we want to see, not what is really there. So, now I wait.

What’s the book about?

The novel is entitled, “Grounded No More,” and it’s a story about the women pilots who volunteered to help the Army Air Corps during the war. The WASPs did a number of aviation tasks including ferrying planes, pulling targets, and instructing other pilots.They flew every aircraft the military owned–even the B-17 and B-26 bombers.

Shirley SladeThe media crowned them heroes in 1943 and at the end of 1944 they became blood-sucking hussies who were taking  jobs away from returning veterans. Neither scenario was quite true.

Now that we will soon celebrate the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, we must remember everyone who put those boys on Omaha and Utah beaches. The men get the credit for fighting, but millions of women served in numeral capacities, too.

After the war the American women pilots were all but forgotten. Like Rosie the Riveter and women like her, when the men came home, they quietly retreated to make homes for their husbands and raise their families. Then they had daughters who became “liberated” in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

In  1975 the first women cadets were accepted at the Air Force Academy. A press release stated,  “For the first time, women will fly American Military planes.” Let me tell you, the WASPs buzzed about that! They organized, and took their case to Capitol Hill.

It wasn’t until 1977 the WASPs were finally recognized as veterans and were granted the military benefits they deserved when President Jimmy Carter signed the GI Bill Improvement Act.

In 1984, each WASP received the World War II Victory Medal. Many of the women had passed on by then so their families accepted the award for them.

And finally, on July 1, 2009, President Barrack Obama gave the WASPs the recognition they deserved when he signed into law Bill S. 614. This bill awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Air Force Service Pilots who answered the call to service when their country needed them most

Through my stories, I honor these extraordinary WWII veterans. Their stories are amazing and their stories of sacrifice and stepping up at a very young age to protect the way we live in the United States should not be forgotten.

That’s why I write what I do.

Missing History

WASP-B-17Now that we acquired the van so Ken and I can go “bumming” easily, I must concentrate on something else. I feel a little guilty about not providing something more substantial to my followers than I have for the past couple of weeks, but with the end of the semester and jumping through hoops to make a wheelchair van a reality, I sloughed off.  I subscribe to and read several blogs, and it is quite clear to me most people have much better stuff to talk about than I do. It’s frustrating, but true. So, I will concentrate better on expanding my world.

Lately, other than seeking and buying  a van, I’ve been researching my next novel. I love this stage of the writing game because I always unearth something I didn’t know. The subject matter this go-round is women pilots during WWII. As I hunted for details of their experiences, I learned some American women signed an 18-month contract with the ATA in Britain to ferry Spitfires and Hurricanes to airfields in England. I also came across an amazing video about Russian women pilots. I was flabbergasted to learn they flew COMBAT missions during the battle of Stalingrad. Incredible. Why hadn’t I ever heard about this before? For that matter, why hadn’t I heard about how women pilots were used (and abused) in the United States?

These women contributed so much to the war effort. They were educated and they had to already have their pilot’s license. (Men were trained by the Army Air Corps or the Civil Air Patrol and their flying fees were paid for by the government. Women had to pay for their own training.)

After 1944, the WASP unit was disbanded and the women had to find their own way home. There was no ceremony to thank them for their service. It was more like, “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?” to get them off the airfield to make room for male pilots returning from their combat tours. After the war, airline pilots were all males because women were supposed to go home and raise a family. It wasn’t until the 1970’s the Air Force even acknowledged their contributions, and that happened after a fight.

This fries me. Many of these women had experience flying every aircraft the United States employed during the war, including the B-17 and B-26 heavy bombers. That’s a huge plane for a female to operate, especially when she was only 5 ft. 4″ tall — which was the requirement. (I have it on good authority many of them stood on their tip-toes in order to meet the height requirement.)

I wish the history we learn in grade school, high school, and even college could be more inclusive of females and other minorities during a specific time periods. So often, the accomplishments and sacrifices of these people are never heard. I realize now this is the reason I am writing these World War II novels–to tell the unknown stories of my parent’s generation. Worldwide there are so many incredible tales that were essential in preserving our way of life.

This generation is dying out. I only wish I had been smarter to ask about such stories while they were here. Anybody know a Russian woman pilot?