❝First Lt. Elaine Danforth Harmon, a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot, or WASP, was one of many women who served their country when it needed them the most. More than 70 years after Harmon flew military aircraft, her family wants to place her ashes at Arlington National Cemetery.
Harmon, a Congressional Gold Medal recipient, died in April 2015 at the age of 95. Her daughter, Terry Harmon, sought to fulfill her mother’s wish to be inurned at Arlington’s Columbarium. However, she received a call from the cemetery telling her that former WASPs were ineligible for inurnment, a fact she argues contradicts an earlier decision.
❝The result is a new chapter in a long-running fight — wrapped inside a bureaucratic rigmarole — over resting privileges for America’s World War II-era women pilots.
❝The WASPs emerged during a period of rapid change and progress for the U.S. military. As the shadows of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan loomed, two female aviators, Nancy Harkness Love and Jacqueline Cochrane, proposed two separate plans to train female pilots in the event of American entry into the war…
Love’s first group included 28 female pilots and became the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. Cochrane’s squadron soon followed, comprising 30 women. This group would later become the WASPs. They helped alleviate manpower shortages by taking on jobs in the home front, allowing the men to fight overseas.
❝In her last report to Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold, commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces, Cochrane noted 1,074 pilots made it into the WASPs’ tough training program, out of the 25,000 who applied.
Among these women was Elaine Harmon…
❝“This is our national cemetery. This is our most hallowed ground and it’s just not credible that they would turn away these women, considering how long they fought for their veterans’ rights,” Terry Harmon said. “They were an integral part of supporting the army during World War II. The Army was the branch of the service they served in and it’s the Army that’s turning them away from Arlington Cemetery.”
I’m never surprised when any branch of public service dominated by a good ol’ boys network discriminates against women. They are, after all, the same sort of cretins who supported racist rules for decades, gender identity-discrimination even longer. They’re reaching out like any obedient conservative bigot to hang onto each remaining strand of bigotry like it’s holy writ.
RTFA for the history of women pilots in the war. And more.