Video: Army Denies Female WWII Pilots to be Buried at Arlington

Video: Army Denies Female WWII Pilots to be Buried at Arlington

January 21, 2016

Video: Army Denies Female WWII Pilots to be Buried at Arlington

Female World War II pilots known as WASPs - Women Airforce Service Pilots - were granted the ability to be inurned at Arlington National Cemetery with military honors in 2002.

Now, in 2016, they no longer have that right.

During WWII, even though WASPs trained and lived like their male counterparts and flew noncombat missions to free up male pilots for combat, the women were considered civilians. Thirty-eight women died in crashes, but neither they nor their families received military benefits.

"If a girl got killed, her parents didn't get anything, not even a flag -- nothing," WASP Barbara Erickson London told CBS News in 2014. "Not even any acknowledgement that their daughter had been in the military."

The New Fight to Give WASPs the Right to Be Buried at Arlington

That all changed in 1977 when they were granted veterans status. And, as mentioned above, in 2002 WASPs became eligible to have their ashes placed at Arlington with military honors.

John McHugh, the now-former Secretary of the Army, revoked these female pilots eligibility in 2015, saying the WASPs never should have been granted it in the first place.

They were, however, granted that privileged and WASPs were buried at Arlington for more than a decade without any problem - until 2015.

The issue has resurfaced now as a family of a WASP who died in April, Elaine Harmon, is pushing to have the eligibility restored. Her ashes are sitting in a closet in her daughter's home.

Now, a petition with over 50,000 signatures to grant burial honors to WASPs is on Change.org, and congresswoman Martha McSally has introduced a bill on January 6, which would give back the WASPs' right to be buried at Arlington.

Honoring the Female Pilots of WWII

Chances are the invading Allied troops of D-Day would've faced an even tougher fight on the beaches of Normandy if not for some special pilots spreading their wings in the run-up to the attack.

Stephanie Riggs has the story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, the WASPs, whose sacrifices during World War II were barely known, until now.

 

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3 Responses

Ann Hupp
Ann Hupp

February 22, 2016

It is a shame, these women served proudly so that the men can serve elsewhere. They placed their lives on the line. They need to be honored, given a proper burial and their families given a flag. Let them take place in history and their stories not forgotten. They did serve even though you think they shouldn’t have. What are you ? A Chauvinistic Ass. Why would you deny them a proper burial place in Arlington.

Roy Frye
Roy Frye

February 22, 2016

This a disgrace!! You should be ashamed. They played a pivotal role in our military and as such deserve all benifits , honor and recognition as any other service person. What a bunch of asses to even suggest such a thing.it amounts to trrason in my eyes!# Shamefull

Linette Swanson
Linette Swanson

February 22, 2016

They were not in combat zones but they were used as support backup so they served their country and fellow army men even if not in harm’s way and to deny benefits or even a FLAG what a disgrace to them and theirs for their efforts because they should be celebrated for their efforts by getting their proper place in history by allowing burial at Arlington shame shame on the man or men that have taken away what they have no right to.

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