US President Awards WW2-era Female Pilots
During WW2, many participant nations tapped into the female population to fill the positions left by the men as the men went to the front lines. In the United States, many women were trained by the WAFS, and subsequently WASP, program to fly military aircraft from airfields near the factories where they were build to military bases where they were staged for front line service. Although it was in many ways an integral part of the WW2-era United States Army on the home front, the WAFS and WASP were not considered military, thus the over 1,000 women who ferried 12,650 military aircraft were deprived of military honors.
On 1 Jul 2009, President of the United States Barack Obama signed a bill awarding the 300 surviving WASP pilots with Congressional Gold Medals, one of the highest civilian awards given by the US government. This bill was passed by both chambers of the US Congress.
"The Women Airforce Service Pilots courageously answered their country's call in a time of need while blazing a trail for the brave women who have given and continue to give so much in service to this nation since", said the president. "Every American should be grateful for their service, and I am honored to sign this bill to finally give them some of the hard-earned recognition they deserve."
For more information, please see the CNN article Obama awards WWII-era women pilots congressional medal.
Video: Interview with WASP pilot Jane Tedeschi
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Winston Churchill, 1935