1977 November 23

WASPS, WWII Women Pilots, Get Retroactive Military Status


The GI Bill Improvement Act of 1977, enacted on this day, retroactively granted military service status to 1,074 women who served as pilots during World War II, while they were members of the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPS). The Wasps were formed on April 23, 1943. The women flew non-combat missions, which freed male pilots for combat duty, but were classified as civilian employees and thereby denied veterans benefits.

The bill covered many subjects, and when President Jimmy Carter signed it into law he did not mention this part of it.

Read the novel (reportedly well-researched) about the WASPS: Cynthia Lee Carter, Wings (2012)

Learn about the WASPS at the Eisenhower Presidential Library: http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/research/online_documents/jacqueline_cochran.html

Learn more: Evelyn Monahan and Rosemary Neidel Greenlee, A Few Good Women: America’s Military Women from World War I to the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (2010)

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