Women served with distinction in the AAF, replacing men who could then be reassigned to combat and other vital duties. The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was created in May 1942. Top priority for assignment of WAACs was to serve at Aircraft Warning Service (AWS) stations. In the spring of 1943, WAACs became the Women's Army Corps (WAC); almost one-half of their peak strength served with the AAF, with many being assigned to clerical and administrative duties, while others worked as topographers, medical specialists, chemists, and even aircraft mechanics. Some commanders were reluctant to accept women into their units, but by mid-1943 the demand for them far exceeded the numbers available.

Other women served in the Army Nurse Corps and were assigned to the AAF. Since nursing was a traditional field of employment for women, they did not have to endure the ridicule suffered by some who pioneered in occupations which had been exclusively male prior to WW II. By 1944, some 6,000 nurses were on duty at AAF station hospitals while 500 were flight nurses aiding in the air evacuation of the wounded. Flight nurse duty was voluntary for their work was strenuous and sometimes took them within range of enemy fire, but the risk was justified by the reduced death rate and increased morale among the wounded.

In Sep. 1942, the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), composed of women flyers with commercial licenses, was activated under Mrs. Nancy Harkness Love to ferry aircraft. Almost simultaneously, the Women's Flying Training Detachment was created under the leadership of the famed aviatrix Jaqueline Cochran to recruit and train women pilots for ferrying duties. On Aug. 5, 1943, the two organizations merged into a single unit, the WASP, with Miss Cochran as Director of Women Pilots. Members of the WASPs were civil service employees.

WASPs were given the same flight instruction as male aviation cadets except they received no aerial gunnery training and little in formation flying or acrobatics. Originally, WASPs ferried only light AAF aircraft from factories to training bases, but eventually they flew fighters as well as four-engine bombers and transports. They also flew such noncombat missions as towing aerial gunnery targets, flying as practice targets for searchlight crews, and serving as instrument instructors.

Jackie Cochran at left


WASPs Elizabeth (MacKethan) Magid (Class 44-W-2), Mildred "Milly" Davidson (Class 44-W-4), Eloise Huffhines (Class 44-W-4), and Clara Jo (Marsh) Stember (Class 44-W-3) on the tail of a B-29 Superfortress at Maxwell Army Air Base, Alabama.

Once in the military, women had other obstacles to overcome: They couldn't give orders to men, their ranks were different, and their pay was less. Of the military services, only the Army allowed them to serve overseas, and laws restricted the ranks of the directors and officers. Still, women volunteered. Still, they served.

Ann Carl, a WASP pilot during World War Two, ferried gunnery-training targets at Camp Davis, North Carolina, and later tested fighters and bombers at Wright Field, Ohio.

From a recent interview with USA Today, here are her words: "We felt we were lucky to be doing what we were doing. We would have done the whole thing free of charge. We would have paid to do it!" she said.

A few AAF WAACs were assigned flying duties. Two WAAC radio operators assigned to Mitchel Field, New York, flew as crew members on B-17 training flights. WAAC mechanics and photographers also made regular flights. Three were awarded Air Medals, including one in India for her work in mapping "the Hump," the mountainous air route overflown by pilots ferrying lend-lease supplies to the Chinese Army. One woman died in the crash of an aerial broadcasting plane.

General 'Hap' Arnold and Barbara Jane (Erickson) London on the reviewing stand at Avenger Field in March 1944. She has just been presented with the Air Medal for completing four transcontinental ferry flights (a total of more than 8,000 miles) in five days."

Micky' (Tuttle) Axton is a colonel in the Confederate Air Force. Axton still flies every chance she gets and speaks about her experiences as a WASP at every opportunity. Many of the former WASPs are still flying. Here she is, in September 1991, flying 'FiFi', the only B-29 Superfortress still flying.

We hope to get some more stories from Micky and enlarge this section of the site. Many thanks to Larry for bringing this and the photos to my attention.!!