WASP Bill Passes Congress

A bill to allow Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, to be inurned at Arlington National Cemetery has been approved by Congress and is awaiting a signature from President Obama. The legislation, championed by Air Force veteran Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), makes WASPs eligible for military honors and inurnments at Arlington; the women had been eligible for those honors from 2002 until March of 2015, when then-Secretary of the Army John McHugh reversed the original decision. WASPs were the first women trained to fly American military aircraft. They flew airplanes, trained combat pilots, and towed airborne targets. Though 38 WASPs died in service, the women were not granted veteran status until 1977. “It’s been just 19 weeks since the Army’s decision to kick out our pioneering female World War II pilots was brought to light, and we’ve been fighting ever since,” McSally said in a written release. “I’m proud to see [the legislation] clear Congress and encourage President Obama to sign it immediately.” The Air Force Association supported the legislation and celebrates its passage, AFA President Larry Spencer said. “The Women Airforce Service Pilots are World War II heroes. We encourage the President to support this legislation by signing the Congress-backed bill immediately,” Spencer said. The final version of the bill was passed by the Senate on May 10 and was unanimously approved by the House on May 11.