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Susan D.
Democrat CA 53

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  • Women Airforce Service Pilots

    by Representative Susan A. Davis

    Posted on 2016-01-11

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    DAVIS of California. Thank you so much.

    I am so glad that my colleague from Arizona is here to speak to this. She is very uniquely qualified to do that as one of the first women pilots--or the first--to actually fly in combat.

    As I remember, the women who joined us a few years ago here in the Capitol who were part of the WASPs were here to receive Gold Medals for their heroic acts during the war and for really coming forward and being part of that volunteer band of women who had had some experience in flying, but who could not have imagined in their wildest dreams doing what they were asked to do, but they were delighted to do it.

    As I will share, they actually wanted to do more, but there were some other people who took over and asked them to go home and enjoy their lives after they had given so much. So I am just delighted to join in this effort and to right this injustice for military trailblazers who were truly ahead of their time.

    When the call came to serve in World War II, the WASPs answered that call just like millions of other Americans. They logged over 60 million miles in over 12,000 aircraft. As my colleague has said, 38 WASP women died while serving their country.

    In 2009, as I mentioned, the WASPs were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for flying military missions in World War II. Boy, even when they were here, they were just a strong group of women who delighted in seeing one another and in reminding themselves of the amazing stories that they brought.

    More than anything else, they serve today as great role models to women who were considering going in the Air Force, of course, and in the Navy, flying for our country, but, also, for taking on some remarkable challenges in their lives. They really represent that for all of us.

    They fought, of course, and they died in service to their country. They trained in military style. They slept on metal cots like everybody else and marched and lived under military discipline. That is why we feel they deserve the full honors that we give our war heroes.

    As has been mentioned, they were given those honors, but because we have a problem of space, it was decided that perhaps they were not at the top of the list. We need to be sure that we provide for everyone who needs to be there.

    There are many WASPs who may not necessarily choose to be at Arlington National Cemetery, but for those who have chosen in working with their families--and their families have fought hard for them--this is something that we need to do.

    I want to particularly mention--and I thought this was really fun to read--one of the articles about these WASPs.

    This is Eddy, who is saying, ``I thought it was the nastiest thing that they''--speaking of the Army Air Forces officials--``could have done to us.'' This was while she was receiving visitors at her home in Coronado. ``They fired us. They gave our jobs to Air Force men who didn't want to go overseas. I would have gone overseas in a minute,'' she said. ``I was a (heck of) a good fighter pilot.'' In my community of San Diego, in El Cajon, I also have a woman named Joyce Secciani, who perhaps was not as forthright as Eddy.

    But despite some fading memories, at 87, she still shares Vivian's passion for the WASPs and her disappointment with its demise. She was also one of the 1,102 women who flew in the all-volunteer program between 1942 and 1944.

    She remarked, ``All of us felt bad to lose (our flying jobs)--all of us wanted to keep up our ability to fly,'' because they knew that, with prevailing chauvinistic attitudes, there would be no pilots' work for them in the civilian realm.

    We need to be sure that we don't lose our perspective about the work that these women did and that we honor them in this way, that we honor them and their families who supported them as well, because we know, with all of our military families, it is not just the person who serves, but it is the entire family who serves as well.

    That was certainly true of these WASPs, whose family members worried about them and were concerned about them as they carried on with their duties as forcibly as they did.

    Let's send that message. Let's continue to work hard. I know that the WASPs are also planning a museum to honor them and to make sure that the country never forgets the work that they did because it was necessary.

    Had they not been there to do that work, many, many people would not have received the materials. Whatever it was, they were making sure that it got to our fighting warriors during World War II.

    {time} 1930 I am so delighted that my colleague is choosing to move forward with this. I want to turn it back to her, and I know that there are other colleagues of mine over here that would like very much to join in this.

    Ms. McSALLY. Thank you, Congresswoman Davis. I really appreciate your partnership on this issue. Together we can show the American people that we can be united on these things that matter to support our veterans and support our heroes and, again, put the pressure on the administration that we have oversight of to actually fix this wrong right now. I really look forward to continuing working with you on it.

    I yield to the gentleman from Maine (Mr. Poliquin), who is joining this discussion as a cosponsor on the bill, very strongly supporting this initiative.

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