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A uniform that I’d never seen before



My first couple of days in the military, I was at the base exchange (BX).

I saw some ladies in a uniform that was unknown to me. I wanted to ask them what country they were from, but I was too shy in those days. I talked very little to ladies.

Then I heard them talk. They spoke good English. I asked the sergeant next to me about the uniform. He said they were WASPs. That meant nothing to me.

When I got back to my barracks and asked one of the old timers about WASPs, he had a book all about them and gave it to me to read.

WASPs were women Air Force Service pilots, flying 78 different types of military aircraft for the U.S. Air Force during World War II. When there was a shortage of male pilots, they flew more than 60 million miles right alongside their male counterparts.

Even though they flew the same missions as the males, the WASPs were considered civilian service, despite being under military contract. They did not receive veteran status until 1977.

Today, these heroes are not afforded the tribute of being laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. There is a bill, if passed, that will soon become law that will allow the WASPs to be laid to rests at Arlington.

About the time I came into the military, these ladies were being sent home.

Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.



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