Anne Greene here. I’ll be doing a series of postings in the next few months on the many important roles women played during World War II. Also today I have a BOOK GIVE-AWAY, so please leave a comment for a chance to win.
In 1942, the United States faced a severe shortage of pilots. President Roosevelt decided to train women to fly military aircraft so male pilots could be released for combat overseas. Congress named the females Women Airforce Service Pilots – WASP. The ladies surprised US Army Air Force Command General, Hap Arnold, who wasn’t sure “A slip of a girl could fight the controls of a B-17 in heavy weather.”
More than 1,100 lady civilian volunteers flew every type of military aircraft including the B-26 and B-29 bombers as part of the WASP program. They tested overhauled crippled fighter planes, they towed targets to give ground and air gunners training to shoot with live ammunition, and they ferried untested planes from factories to military bases across the country. The WASP expected to become a branch of the military. Congress never passed that bill.
WASPS weren’t granted military status until the 1970s. And now 65 years after their service, President Obama signed a bill awarding the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal.
The women who flew had moxie and an adventurous gene. In that 1940-1944 time frame, most people had never been aboard a plane much less flown one. Short, tall, slim, wide, women came to the WASP program knowing how to fly. Since flying lessons were expensive, most women came from wealthy families. The military trained male pilots from scratch, but not the female civilian volunteers.
Thirty-eight WASPs lost their lives serving their country.
Jacqueline Cochran was the driving force and head of the WASP program. Jacqueline was a pioneering aviator. But the WASP program was threatened from the start and had to fight to remain in effect. Many people found the program unacceptable. Some found it hard to swallow that women could release men for combat duty and place themselves in danger. And as the war wound to an end, these voices grew louder.
But in 1944 Commander Arnold said, “Let the record stand that women can fly as well as men, and in some cases better.”
Yet, as the war seemed to draw to a close in the summer of 1944, flight training programs closed. Instructors didn’t want to lose their jobs to women, so they lobbied for the WASPs jobs saying “It’s unacceptable for women to replace men.” Men said they were heads of families and sole providers and as such needed the jobs more than women.
My book, ANGEL WITH STEEL WINGS, about WASPs releases soon. In it you’ll discover a tumultuous romance, live though many of the adventures real American women experienced, and find the answer to what happened to the WASPs. I hold WASPs in extremely high regard!
In coming months I’ll also be posting about the WAC, the NURSE, the WAVE, and the SPY, all brave American women who served America during the war to end all wars. So make a note to visit with me at Heroes, Heroines, and History every 14th day of every month. Some months I’ll have chances for give-aways to the lovely people who leave comments.
This month I’m giving an autographed copy of my historical romance, MARRIAGE BY ARRANGEMENT, to a person who leaves a comment. I pick a commenter’s name from a hat. So tell me, Did you have a female relative, Grand-mother, aunt, cousin, third cousin twice removed who served in the military during World War II? Leave a comment even if you didn’t. A donut dolly, a victory garden grower, or a bond seller all filled needed niches during the war. These deserve comments as well.
BIO: ANNE GREENE delights in writing about alpha heroes who aren’t afraid to fall on their knees in prayer, and about gutsy heroines. She and her hero husband, Army Special Forces Colonel Larry Greene, visited Scotland, resulting in her award-winning Scottish historicals, Masquerade Marriage and Marriage By Arrangement. Moody Press published her first book, Trail of Tears, an American historical. A Texas Christmas Mystery also won awards. Elk Lake Publishing contracted two series. Her Women of Courage Series spotlights heroic women of World War II. The first book of the second series, Holly Garden, PI, Red Is For Rookie, releases in 2015. Anne makes her home in McKinney, Texas. Two of her four children live nearby. Tim LaHaye led her to the Lord when she was twenty-one, and Chuck Swindoll is her Pastor. Her highest hope is that her stories transport the reader to an awesome new world and touch hearts to seek a deeper spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus. To learn more of Anne, visit her at http://www.AnneGreeneAuthor.com. She writes a novel teaching class on her blog www.anneswritingupdates.blogspot.com