If we talk about the Women Airforce Service Pilots a lot, it’s only because they were awesome. Classified as civilians working for the Air Force as they performed the same job as (and even trained) enlisted men, unceremoniously dismissed at the end of the war, with their actions unnecessarily classified for thirty years and subsequently omitted from history textbooks. It’s been a struggle for the aging members of the WASP to find their proper due, but one such effort went off without a hitch this very week.
The surviving members of WASP and their children have persuaded congress to declassify WASP records, and to award its pilots the World War II Victory Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal, and the American Campaign Medal. And this weekend they successfully funded and built a float in the Rose Parade, an annual, nationally televised New Years day celebration in Pasadena, California.
The float was nearly left incomplete for lack of funds, but a last minute rally saw the project to the parade. Eight surviving WASP members rode on the float, including Alyce Stevens Rohrer. Rohrer told CBS Los Angeles:
I wanted to fly up there with the birds. I just felt like I needed to be up there. I can’t explain it any better than that… [The Women Airforce Service Pilots is] a group I’m extremely proud of belonging to because they just didn’t sit on their laurels and quit when they were sent home. They all did something special.
She hopes that the WASP will not be forgotten by history. We do too, for the WASP and all others of our earliest attempts a diversifying the US military. You can see more pictures of the float on BarefootDramaturg’s Tumblr post.
(top pic via BarefootDramaturg.)