I traveled the country border to border and coast to coast for over two decades thanking veterans for their service and passing out flags. I was visiting Atlanta VA when I walked into the room of this woman veteran.
She was a pilot in the Women Airforce Service Pilots ( WASP) some 1,100 civilian. She flew airplanes from Western New York to Russia during WWII.
It was a two week round trip we would leave in flights of eight planes staggered one hour apart thirty two airplanes in all. We would followed roads over US and Canada . They had spotters every fifty miles to count our planes as we flew over , if one was missing they would send peoples out to pick you up and recover the airplane. It was safe and very well organize. The most dangerous part was flying over the Rocky Mountains and Alaskan mountain range.
She said “Pull up a chair and take a load off your feet and visit for awhile”. “I been expecting you.” “My friends in heaven told me you were coming”.
“I’m 95 years old and I’m the last one left”. She was a pilot in the Army Air Corp. She flew airplanes from Western New York to Russia during WWII.
I could tell by her voice and the look on her face that she was sharing her most precious life time memories.
"We would get all dolled up with our planes lined up in formation as truckloads of pilots came to receive and inspect them. We would meet later at a hanger where they had music and dancing there was a great deal of joy and laughter we spoke a little Russian and they spoke a little English . We would head to the barracks with a bottle of vodka . The bunks were far apart with blankets hanging for our privacy. We had a night of drinking and great sex. They were so young and many of them have never been with a woman before. We all knew most of them were going to die in the airplanes we had just delivered."
The words “The Russians are coming!!” Struck fear in the hearts of every German soldier during WWII. There were armies made up entirely of women commanded by women generals at every level of the military command structure.
The divisions of women armor and infantry fighting on the front lines during the war and they were fierce warriors. It was women that took Berlin fighting house by house street by street until they finally broke into Hitler’s bunker.
Men didn’t want you to know that women were that capable of such fierce fighting.
Rosie was famous as you know. Women took over an industry during the war working in steel mills, shipyards, tank factories and built airplanes. Women were in charge at every level and their ideas increased production and quality of the Jeeps, tanks, airplanes and ships during the war.
After the war ended with Germany and Japan, we were honored as equal hero’s as the men who fought in the war with parades all over the country.
We were fired on mast by industry to create jobs for men. We felt it was our patriotic duty to turn to the cities, towns, and farms across America as we start our families, make babies and raise our children and take care of our husbands.
Most men were happy to have their loving wives there to take care of them but many more were intimidated by our newly found sense of self-worth.
Many men were intimidated by the fact that we were equal to them. In most cases, we were smarter, more capable, and more adequate.
Women were beaten all over the country into submission that a women’s place was in the home and that they should be seen and not heard. Countless women died at the hands of men and nothing was ever done.
One of our comrades was beaten to death by her husband and that coward didn’t have the nerve to come to his wife own funeral. He couldn’t face us yet he rubbed salt in our wounds by getting married a week after we laid her to rest.
We don’t know why or if our cries for help were ever answered by President Dwight Eisenhower whose top aid during the war was a woman.
We were heroes and treated poorly as our Nation turned its back on us. A deep sadness came over her as she said “We abandoned the future of our daughters and for that we are deeply sorry”
I returned to the Atlanta VA a year later with a thousand flags. I asked the manager of volunteer services about the woman pilot and she immediately escorted me to her room.
The nurse told us that they were keeping her comfortable and that she was dying and only had four or five hours to live.
We returned to the volunteer services office and I was invited to speak at a women’s conference at 1 O' clock that afternoon.
I looked at the program which read “The Department of Veteran Affairs first annual conference for Women Veterans’ Rights.” I was listed as the third speaker to be followed by women Veterans of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.
How did they know I would be there on that day? It was her, the last WASP, fighting for the rights of women Veterans with her dying breath.