The Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP’s)
Between 1942 and 1944, 1,102 women served as pilots for the U.S. Army Air Forces. They participated with instructor training, towing targets for air to air gunnery and ground to air anti-aircraft practice, transporting personnel and cargo and ferrying airplanes to training fields and embarkation points. This freed the male pilots for combat.
The original group was called the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron or WAFS. In 1943 they were re-designated Women Airforce Service Pilots or WASP. By December of 1944 the group had unceremoniously been disbanded. During that short time frame, the ladies had logged over 60 million miles in military aircraft. At the final graduation ceremony in Sweetwater, Texas, General "Hap" Arnold spoke of their exemplary safety and delivery record.
In 1977, Congress granted veteran status to this group. This allowed them to receive medical benefits and the American Campaign Medal and the WWII Victory Medal. But most important to these ladies was that they could now be buried in our Nation’s cemeteries and their caskets could bear the United States Flag. On March 10, 2010 the Women Airforce Service Pilots were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their service in World War II.
Nineteen of those women came from Nebraska. They are: Dorothy L. Bancroft, Mary B. Beecham, Lois V. Boien, Lois A. Bristol, Grace "Betty" E. Clements, Mary A. Jershin, Eileen "Ikey" A. Kealy, Marybelle J. Lyall, Esther L. Mueller, Roberta E. Mundt, Margaret "Peggy" L. Nispel, Millicent A. Peterson, Alice L. Riss, Evelyn G. Sharp, B. Kristin Swan, Helen A. Turner, Isabel E. Tynon, Jane E. Waite and Mary E. Williamson. All but four of these ladies are deceased, they are Lois A Bristol Young, B. Kristin Swan Lent, Millicent A. Peterson Young and Dr. Mary E. Williamson.
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