WWII female pilots honored at Capitol Hill on March 10





They flew planes during World War II but weren't considered "real" military pilots. No flags were draped over their coffins when they died on duty. And when their service ended, they had to pay their own bus fare home.

These aviators - all women - got long-overdue recognition on Wednesday. They received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor given by Congress, in a ceremony on Capitol Hill.

About 200 women who served as Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, were on hand to receive the award. Now mostly in their late 80s and early 90s, some came in wheelchairs, many sported dark blue uniforms, and one, June Bent of Westboro, Mass., clutched a framed photograph of a comrade who had died.

As a military band played "The Star-Spangled Banner," one of the women who had been sitting in a wheelchair stood up and saluted through the entire song as a relative gently supported her back.

"Women Airforce Service Pilots, we are all your daughters; you taught us how to fly," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to serve as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. She said the pilots went unrecognized for too long, even though their service blazed a trail for other women in the U.S. military.

In accepting the award, WASP pilot Deanie Parrish, 88, of Waco, Texas, said the women had volunteered without expectation of thanks. Their mission was to fly noncombat missions to free up male pilots to fly overseas....



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