In the early 1940's the Air Force found itself in quite a quandary. Thousands of planes were being manufactured and needed to be delivered to the various bases, but the pilots were all overseas fighting in the war so the government launched a new, experimental program to train women to fly these military aircraft. From 1942 to 1944, thousands of women were trained.
And so it was that a select group of women became pioneers and as such, they faced both disbelief and resentment from their male counterparts. Nonetheless, these women remained fearless and committed. They were our heroes and our role models.
The women came from all walks of life, but they all had one desire...the desire to fly. They were forced to undergo some very rigorous training, and only barely half of the women who signed up made it to graduation. They were the first women in American history who flew military aircraft.
They voluntarily put their lives on the line to prove that women could successfully fly these military aircraft. Thirty-eight of these woman were killed in the line of duty.
Jane Delores Champlin: b.14 May 1917 in Chicago, Illinois. She lost her life on July 7, 1944 when she and her training instructor were killed on a training flight.
Susan Parker Clarke: b. 1918 in Cooperstown, New York. She died July 4, 1944 when the plane she was flying crashed in Columbia, South Carolina.
Marjorie Laverne Davis: b. Hollywood, California. Marjorie died October 16, 1944 while on a cross country training flight.
Catherine Kay Applegate Dussig: b. Dayton, Washington. She died November 26, 1944 while flying on an administrative cross-country flight.
Marjorie Doris Edwards: b. 28 September 1918 in Fullerton, California. She died January 8, 1944 while on a cross country training flight.
Jane Elizabeth Erickson: b. 24 April 1921 in Seattle, Washington. She died April 16, 1944 in a mid-air collision in the traffic pattern at Avenger Field.
Cornelia Fort: 5 February 1919 in Nashville, Tennessee. She died March 21 1943 in a mid-air collision. She was the first woman to lose her life while flying for the Army Air Force.
Frances Fortune Grimes: b. Deerpark, Maryland. She died in an attack bomber on March 27, 1944 shortly after take-off.
Mary E. Hartson: b. 11 January 1917 in Portland, Oregon. She died August 14, 1944 while flight testing.
Mary Holmes Houson: b. 16 February 1919 in Wayne, Pennsylvania. She died while returning from a cross country flight...a mid-air collision.
Edith Edy Clayton Keene: b. Canton, Montana. She died April 24, 1944 while on a routine flight.
Catherine Barbara Lawrence: b. 3 December 1920 in Grand Fork, North Dakota. She died August 4, 1943 while on a routine training flight. She bailed out, but her chute failed to open.
Hazel Ying Lee: b. August, 1912 in Portland, Oregon. She died November 23, 1944 in a mid-air collision while on the final approach to the Great Falls Army Airfield.
Paula Ruth Loop: b. 25 Aug 1916 in Wakita, Oklahoma. She died July 7,1944 while on a ferrying mission.
Alice E. Lovejoy: b:1919 in Scarsdale, New York. She died September 13, 1944 in a mid-air collision.
Peggy Wilson Martin: b. 8 Feb 1912 in Seattle, Washington. She died October 3, 1944 while test flying.
Lea Ola MacDonald: b. 12 Oct 1921 in Hollywood, Arizona. She died June 21, 1944 on a practice flight of an attack bomber.
Virginia E. Moffat: b. Los Angeles, California. She died October5, 1943 while on a routine flight.
Beverly Jean Moses: b. 21 December 1923 in Des Moines, Iowa. She died while flying as a co-pilot when their plane crashed into the mountains.
Dorothy Mae Dottie Nichols: b. Los Angeles, California. She died June 11, 1944 just after take-off.
Jeanne Lewellen Norbeck: b. 14 November 1912 in Columbus, Indiana. She died October 15,1944 while flight testing.
Margaret Sanfford Oldenburg: She was the first trainee to die in the WASP Program when she was killed on a routine flight March 7, 1943.
Mabel Virginia Rawlinson: b. 19 March 1917 in Kalamazoo, MI. She died August 23,1943 when her attack bomber crashed.
Gleanna Roberts: b. 11 Jan 1919 in Sharon Township, Iowa. She died June 20, 1944 while on a routine training flight.
Maria Mitchell Robinson: b. Michigan. She died while co-piloting on October 2, 1944. Her plane crashed in the mountains.
Bettie Mae Scott: b. 26 July 1921 in Monrovia, California. She died July 8, 1944 while flight testing.
Dorothy E. Scott: b. 16 Feb 1920 in Seattle, Washington. She died December 3, 1943 in a mid-air collision with her instructor.
Margaret June Seip: b. 24 June 1916 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She died August 30, 1943 together with her instructor and a fellow classmate on a routine training flight.
Helen Jo Anderson Severson: b. 2 November 1918 in Marvin SD. She died together with her instructior and a fellow classmate on a routine flight on August 30, 1943.
Marie Ethel Sharon: b. 21 April 1917 in Forsythe, MT. She died April 10, 1944 while she and her instructor were on a night flying instrument training flight.
Evelyn Sharp: b. 20 October 1919 in Millstone, MT. She died April 3, 1944 when her engine failed on take-off.
Betty Pauline Stine: b. Fort Worth, Texas. She died February 25,1944 while on her last cross country flight before graduation.
Marian Toevs.: b. Aberdeen, ID. She was killed February 18, 1944 when her plane crashed near San Jose.
Gertrude Tompkins-Silver: b. 16 October 1912 in Jersey City, New Jersey. She died after departing on a ferrying mission. Her body was never found, and she is the only WASP unaccounted for.
Mary Elizabeth Trebing: b. 31 December 1920 in Royalton, IL. She died November 7, 1943 when the plane she was ferrying crashed.
Mary Louise Webster: b. 30 Jun 1919 in Ellensburg, Washington. She died December 9, 1944 while flying as a co-pilot.
Bonnie Jean Alloway Welz: b. 22 Jun 1918in Bridgeport, WA. She died while on an administrative flight.
Betty Taylor Wood: b. March, 1921 in New Berlin, IL. She died September 23, 1943 in a crash landing of an attack bomber.
Let us pay tribute to these women by honoring their memory...the memory of women whose sacrifices brought honor to their country and to themselves. May we never forget.