Without Delay: Restoring the Eligibility of WASPs to Have Their Ashes at Arlington National Cemetery
Editor's Note: Read an article on Martha McSally, the first woman to fly as a combat pilot in the late David Westheimer's article, More Martha. Read David's other articles on Lt. Col McSally: Women in Blue; Women in Blue: Round Two as well as a reference in Killer Chick.
US Representative Martha McSally has led House members to call on Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy to reinstate inurnment rights of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) at Arlington National Cemetery. In a letter, the lawmakers write that the decision to rescind WASP inurnment eligibility at Arlington in March 2015 "perpetuates and validates" past gender discrimination in the military.
Frances Green, Margaret (Peg) Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn leaving their plane, "Pistol Packin' Mama," at the four-engine school at Lockbourne AAF, Ohio, during WASP ferry training B-17 Flying Fortress; Wikimedia Commons
"As you are aware, the WASP stepped up to serve during a time of great need during World War II," the lawmakers write. "It is clear the main reason the WASP were not commissioned at the time was cultural hang-ups on the role of women in the military."
"The men who flew the same missions as the WASP before, alongside, and after these women would have been able to earn eligibility for Arlington National Cemetery."
On January 6, Rep. McSally introduced legislation to restore the eligibility of WASPs to have their ashes inurned at Arlington National Cemetery. That legislation has garnered 118 House cosponsors and the endorsements of organizations such as the Military Officers Association of America, the Air Force Association, the Distinguished Flying Cross Society, and the Service Women's Action Network. Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
"Today, there are only roughly 110 WASPs remaining, and space constraints do not justify denying these women their honors," the lawmakers continued. "We believe you have every authority you need to resume allowing WASPs to be inurned in Arlington National Cemetery without delay."
"We ask you to use your authority to allow the WASPs inurnment immediately."
Today’s letter was co-signed by 55 House members. The full letter text follows.
View a PDF of the letter HERE.
February 3, 2016
The Honorable Patrick Murphy
Acting Secretary of the Army
101 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0101
Dear Mr. Secretary:
We write urging you to immediately reinstate inurnment and full military honors eligibility for the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). These women pioneered the way for all women to serve in uniform and deserve the honors they earned.
As you are aware, the WASP stepped up to serve during a time of great need during World War II, flying missions such as ferrying airplanes, training combat pilots, and towing airborne targets. The WASP trained in the military style: marching, living in barracks, participating in infantry drills, and taking oaths of allegiance. 38 of these volunteer pilots died serving their country.
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