This photograph caught my eye a few months ago. It spurred me to read more about women pilots in World War II. Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP, ferried 12,650 military aircraft between 1942 and December 1944. That was more than 50 percent of the total manufactured during the same time period.
The pilots above, from left to right, are: Frances Green Kari, Margaret Kircher Stevensen, Ann Waldner Currier and Blanche Osborne Bross. They were walking down the flight line at Lockbourne Army Air Base in Columbus, Ohio, where they were trained to fly B-17 Flying Fortresses. Mrs. Currier is the only one still living. Mrs. Kari died in 1994 of cancer in Boise, Idaho, I believe.
Thirty-eight WASP lost their lives. Although they were under the command of the Army Air Force, they were considered civil service employees and received no death benefits. This meant their families had to pay transport charges to have remains shipped home and all burial expenses.
The WASP were trained at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. Avenger Field is Sweetwater Airport. Hangar One, which was on the civilian side of Avenger Field during the war, is now home to the National WASP World War II Museum. The military side was located where the Texas State Technical College campus is now. On the campus, one will yet find the WASP wishing well. Next to it is a memorial wall.
Many of the pilots' letters, journals and photos featured the wishing well. The above photo is one of pilot Dede Deaton. It was a cool place to rest each evening after a full day of penetrating Texas sun. There, the pilots shared their fears and dreams with each other or quietly with the night.