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Medals And History

Shortly after the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor, 

Male pilots became a vital resource in the war effort. When they proved scarce to come by, the Army Air Force decided to train experienced women to fly non-combat missions, allowing more male pilots to be deployed for combat positions.  

Twenty-five thousand women with pilot's licenses applied to the Army's Women's Airforce Service Pilots program, WASP.

Only 1,900 were accepted. 1,074 graduated to become the first women ever to fly U.S. military aircraft.  Often resented and under appreciated, the WASP flew in almost every mission except combat, in virtually every aircraft available to the military at the time. 

Without the pay and entitlements enjoyed by men in the same positions, they logged more than 60 million miles and provided over 50% of troop ferrying service. The attrition and accident rates of the WASP compared favorably to that of their male counterparts, speaking volumes for their abilities, and paving the way for the future of today's women pilots and astronauts. Their achievements shine brightly as proof that women have always been capable of serving in any aspect of war that they set their minds to. All they need is the opportunity to go out and do it.  

It is possible that some people have never heard of the WASP program. Not at all surprising. When men began to return from war the program was ended -- without fanfare and without any benefit to the women who served -- in 1944. The women who served were not given any veteran's benefits. The 38 women who lost their lives were not covered under any insurance or burial benefit. Despite the fact that they went to Officer Training schools, they were not given any military status. Their records were sealed, classified as Secret, giving historians no access to them for over thirty years, preventing their accomplishments from being in any of the history books on World War II.  

It wasn't until 1977, when President Carter signed a bill into Congress granting WASP WWII Veteran status (without full benefit), that they were given much recognition. In 1984 they were awarded World War II Victory Medals and Theater Service Medals. And finally, in May of 2010, President Obama awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the WASP in honor of their service, and a ceremony was held in Washington for them shortly thereafter. Over sixty years after they answered the call of the nation, and after many of them have already passed on, we are finally able to look upon and acknowledge the tremendous effort given and achievements that these amazing women made. 
Courtesy of Brandan Hill-Mann.

For information on obtaining medals click here.
Click link to obtain information about the bronze copy of the Congressional Medal.