ElaineHarmon.WW2WASP.CongressionalGoldMedal2010

Elaine Harmon, a U.S. Women’s Airforce Service Pilot during World War II, has died, and the premier military cemetery in the United States refuses to bury her remains, despite her winning the Congressional Gold Medal with other WASPs in 2010. The superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C. says a change in regulations prevents her ashes from being inurned – next to other WASPS who have been laid to rest there. There are only about 100 WASPS left, all in their 90s, and they have suffered discrimination since they first joined up. They trained male pilots, flew aircraft across country to meet logistical needs and took live fire from recruits during target practice, but were not recognized as part of the regular Army until 1977, when the existence of the WASPs was declassified as young women were formally admitted for pilot training in the Air Force. The rationale, according to The Washington Post, for a lifetime of discrimination and secrecy: the Army didn’t want Japanese generals to mock them for letting women train men. (Deaconess Bedell probably knew exactly what the WASPs went through.)

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