Per Ardua Ad Astra

I don't think this needs a long writeup. It's just totally blubworthy, and my gratitude to Liss for letting me put it up here.

Women Air Service Pilots (WASPs) to receive Congressional Gold Medal for service during World War II.

Women not being allowed to enter combat then (officially, and only applying to Western European and North American women; of course, as noted recently in these very pages, this wasn't so for every woman in reality, and several nations did use women in combat, including the Finns and the Soviets, among others), many women enlisted voluntarily in a number of different auxiliary services, generally doing jobs which would free more fighting men for the front - just as the legions of "Rosie the Riveter" women did in the factories and shipyards.

Personally, I can say with pride that both of my grandmothers served in uniform - my mother's mother as an army driver (where she met my grandfather, actually, marrying in Belgium before V-E Day), and my father's mother in the RAF's auxiliary (where she served during the Battle of Britain, as a spotter and signaller).
Some 25,000 women pilots applied, and 1,830 were accepted. They had to pay their own way to Texas for 21 to 27 weeks of rigorous training, for which they received less pay than the male cadets in the same program, Parrish said.

Candidates had to be at least 21 and at least 5 feet, one-half inch tall.

When Tedeschi underwent a physical, she was told her height was only 5 feet.

"I frowned," she recalled. "I said 'I need that half-inch,' so he wrote it down." She was in.

Eventually the women who completed the program were assigned to one of 120 bases across the country to start their missions.

Depending on the base, they participated in a range of activities:

-- Ground-to-air anti-aircraft practice.

-- Towing targets for air-to-air gunnery practice with live ammunition.

-- Flying drones and conducting night exercises.

-- Testing repaired aircraft before they were used in cadet training.

-- Serving as instructors.

-- Transporting cargo and male pilots to embarkation points.

I'd like to add my voice to those of the US Congress to thank these women for their service to both their country and mine (had the US not entered the war on the Allies' side, I might well have grown up a native speaker of German).

Well done, you WASPs!

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