Lawmakers Will Be Joined by WASP Family Members to Call for Reinstatement of WWII Female Pilots at Arlington National Cemetery
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) will hold a press conference on March 16 at 1:30 PM ET at the U.S. Capitol to call on the Army to reinstate the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) at Arlington National Cemetery. The lawmakers have led the fight in Congress to restore the rights of WASPs, who were pioneering female World War II pilots, to have their ashes laid to rest at Arlington, a right that was revoked by the Army last year. Both lawmakers have introduced companion legislation with strong bipartisan support. They will be joined at the press conference by lawmakers from both parties, WASP family members, and a representative from Change.org.
WASP Press Conference
U.S. Representative Martha McSally (R-AZ)
Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA)
U.S. Representative Susan Davis (D-CA)
Family members of Elaine Harmon, former WASP
Representative from Change.org
House triangle location (outside on southeast side of Capitol)
Wednesday, March 16
1:30 PM ET
*The press conference also will be live-streamed
In 1942, General Henry “Hap” Arnold created the WASP unit with the intention of granting them full military status. Nearly 1,100 signed up for the WASP program, which ran from 1942 to 1944. Their missions included ferrying airplanes, training combat pilots, and towing airborne targets, and 38 WASPs died during their service.
In 1977, Congress passed legislation retroactively granting active duty status to WASP pilots for the purposes of all laws administered by the VA, and in 2009, Congress awarded the WASPs the Congressional Gold Medal. Arlington National Cemetery approved in 2002 active duty designees, including WASP pilots, for military honors and inurnments. However, in March 2015, then-Secretary of the Army John McHugh reversed this decision.