When Elaine Harmon died at the age of 95, she had hoped her ashes would laid to rest at Arlington. Elaine Harmon was a WASP –Women Airforce Service Pilots in the Second World War. But a new rule decided otherwise: no women are allowed at Arlington, because the cemetary is running out of space.
From the moment that the WASP- program was started in 1942, General Henry H. ‘Hap’Arnold hoped the women would get the full military status, but that never happened and today even after their death this status is still denied.
The WASP was founded in the summer of 1941 on initiative of Jacqueline “Jackie” Cochran and test-pilot Nancy Harkness Love. The United Kingdom had already a program for women to become a non-combattant flyer, which was called the ATA- Air Transport Auxiliary and Jackie Cochran was determinded to start a similar program in the United States of America. When female pilots flew aircraft from factories to military bases, this would free the male pilots to fly warmissions. Many American female pilots followed Cochran to Britain and became members of the ATA.
However, the American Airforce ran out of male pilots because of the war, so there was no alternative than to draft women for a transport unit. The WASP was born with Cochran in command. Over 1.000 women joined the program from 1942 till 1944. They flew sixty million miles of operational flights from aircraft factories to ports of embarkation and military training bases. They also towed targets for live anti-aircraft artillery practice, simulated strafing missions, and transported cargo. But after the war all these women were soon to be forgotten. After decades of lobbying, the WASP finally earned veteran status, but they were not guaranteed military burial rights.
Tiffany Miller has started a petition to change this ridiculous rule. Let us never forget the warefforts of military nor civilians, men nor women!