WASPs May Need “Act of Congress”

Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy has voiced his support for an effort to allow Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) to be inurned at Arlington National Cemetery. “I support your legislation,” Murphy told Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who authored a bill to allow the cremated remains of WASPs to be buried at Arlington. The Secretary of the Army in 2015 ruled that WASPs—women who flew military planes in stateside missions during World War II—were ineligible for burial at Arlington. Wednesday, during a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Murphy said he supports McSally’s efforts but cannot overturn the 2015 ruling for the entire group. “Congress needs to change what Congress did in 1977,” he said, referring to legislation that recognized the women as veterans and allowed their burial at veteran cemeteries other than Arlington. McSally scoffed that it “literally does take an act of Congress” to fix the problem. At a press conference later in the day, she vowed to continue fighting for the WASPs. “The only reason these women were not Active Duty at the time was because of sexism and gender hang-ups of the role of women in the military 70 years ago,” she said. “It’s ironic as well that under current rules, if their husband was buried in Arlington, they could be buried there. But on their own right, they’re still not let in.” The bill, which has more than 180 co-sponsors, is awaiting a vote in the House.