Over at The Atlantic, Katherine Sharp Landdeck explores the rocky history of how the United States government has honored (or, rather, not honored) one of the most fascinating groups of WWII veterans, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (or WASPs). Who are the WASPs?
In 1942, the U.S. Army Air Forces desperately needed pilots for the two-front war that no one was sure they could win. They needed pilots to fight, but they also needed pilots to fly planes the factories were building to points of embarkation on each coast. Desperate for women to fly, the AAF decided to bring them in as civilians, just as they did some men, and work out the bureaucratic details later. The WASPs began with a small group of highly qualified female pilots, later expanding to less-experienced women who went through the same training as male cadets to earn their wings. They flew 60 million domestic miles during the war, taking on every flying job their country asked of them.
Despite their brave service, the female pilots have not historically received the same honors as their male counterparts—including the right to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, which, while granted in 1977, was rescinded last year on a technicality.
Read all about the WASPs' battle for recognition over at the source.