Back in January this year, it was reported that John McHugh, then Army Secretary, reversed a previous ruling which allowed WASPs, women pilots from WWII, to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. It didn’t sit well with the families of the women, so they started a campaign to get Congress to overrule that decision. It worked.
Uncle Sam’s previously reported on the WASPs (Women’s Air Force Service Pilots):
The women pilots trained combat pilots. They test-flew repaired military aircraft. They towed airborne targets so the men could shoot live-fire rounds at them. They were subject to living in a barracks and military discipline.
Their Commander, Gen. Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, created the unit with the intention of it becoming a full military unit…but he was denied. And there are only about 100 or so women left alive- all of whom are in their 90’s.
A disappointed family
2nd Lt Elaine Harmon, one of the WASPs, passed away in 2015. The WASPS had been declared “active duty military” by law since 1977. But when Harmon’s family submitted their request, it was denied, and the Army Secretary said no one had the right to let them be buried there in the first place. It stunned the family.
So they began a journey to get that decision reversed, and do so with legal grounds. It took until May 10, 2016 to get the job done, but thanks to legislators, historians, family members, other WASP members, families, and many more, it became “mission accomplished.”
HR 4336 was introduced into Congress by Rep Martha McSally, an Air Force veteran and female pilot, with 191 cosponsors. Its final version had 2 amendments, but none were made after May 10.
The US Army is charged with monitoring the problem of space at the National Cemetery and must come up with solutions to it so that the National Cemetery will be a viable option for active military “well into the future.”
There were originally only 1,000 WASPs.