A small group of women known as the WASPs helped the Allied Forces go on to win Wold War II by rising to the occasion when their country called on them. Here’s their story on the 70th anniversary….
Today marks the 70th anniversary of one of the most famous and pivotal battles in history.
On June 6, 1944, Operation Overlord commenced as over 160,000 American, British, and Canadian troops stormed ashore at five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of coastline in Normandy, France.
They were preceded by thousands of American and British paratroopers, and an astounding 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft took part in the invasion.
The landings claimed over 9,000 Allied casualties but marked the beginning of the end for Hitler and his Third Reich.
Less than a year later, the war in Europe would be over.
A small group of often-overlooked Americans played a vital role in the success of D-Day: the Women Airforce Service Pilots, more commonly known as WASPs.
American industry was cranking out waves of aircraft, but there was a shortage of pilots to deliver them to the front.
In 1943, America turned to its women, and 25,000 answered the call. Of those applicants, 1,100 were ultimately selected.
The WASPs flew over 60 million miles as they delivered more than 12,000 aircraft–from nimble and sleek P-51 Mustang fighters to the lumbering B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers–to the front lines.
Despite not seeing combat, the WASPs faced a treacherous job ferrying planes all over the world. Thirty-eight women lost their lives, and since they were not actually in the military, their families were not entitled to benefits.
In fact, it was not until 1976 that women were allowed to serve in the United States Air Force. A year later, the WASPs were recognized as military veterans and granted full benefits.
Finally, in 2009, the WASPs received their due as President Barack Obama awarded the women the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their efforts and contributions.
The D-Day landings and the liberation of Europe would not have been possible without the efforts of these women who paved the way for future generations of ladies to serve their country.
So when you reflect upon the events of seventy years ago and the sacrifices made by so many, don’t forget to give a tip of your cap to the WASPs.