women airforce

Disney During World War II: Fifinella and The Women of WASP

Fifinella was a female ‘gremlin’ originally created by Walt Disney Productions for an unmade film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book, The Gremlins. During World War II, the Fifinella Patch (a.k.a. ‘Fifi’) was worn by a heroic group of young American servicewomen – the Women Airforce Service Pilots, a.k.a. WASP.

The women of WASP were the first females trained to fly American military aircraft. Together, they flew over 60 million miles, piloting every type of military aircraft. They ferried new planes to air bases and piloted planes towing targets for anti-aircraft gunnery training. Ultimately, 38 members of WASP died while serving their country in this manner.

Sadly, when their service was no longer needed, the women of WASP were released from duty without veteran rank or GI benefits. Making matters worse, all records of the WASP were classified and sealed for 35 years, making their contributions to the war effort virtually unknown to historians until 1975!

The Fifi patch, like most other Disney-themed unit patches worn during WWII, was designed by Hank Porter.

For lots more info about what Disney was doing during WWII, check out John Baxter’s beautiful book, Disney During World War II: How the Walt Disney Studio Contributed to Victory in the War.

So incredibly happy that I married my best friend 💙

Shirley Slade, WWII WASP pilot of B-26 and B-39.

In 1942, the United States was faced with a severe shortage of pilots, so an experimental program to replace males with female pilots was created. The group of female pilots was called the Women Airforce Service Pilots — WASP for short. Shirley Slade was one of about 1,100 chosen. She was trained to fly the B-26 and B-39, and that got her put on the cover of Life magazine in 1943 at about 23 years old.

So can Angie be a WASP?  

Peggy has always been super protective of Angie because look at her, she’s tiny.  She looks like a strong gust of wind will blow her into a tree.  And Peggy does not want to explain that to Howard and ask him to make her special shoes or whatever.  And then she takes Angie to a small air show on Long Island and one of the pilots recognizes Angie and pretty much plops her in a cockpit.  Peggy just watches with her mouth hanging open as Angie points out all the things that could be fixed and how he better treat this machine right because she deserves a pilot who will love her.

Also Angie totally lied about her age because she really wanted to fly.

Janet Bragg (1907-1993) was the first African American who was awarded a Commercial Pilot License. She achieved this in 1934, despite constant adversity on the grounds of her gender and her race.

An amateur aviator, she enrolled in a School of Aeronautics in Chicago in 1928, the first black woman to do so. She furthered her studies at the Aeronautical University as only one woman among 24 male colleagues. Even though she applied to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots programme, she was refused because of her race, just as her application to be a military nurse was rejected from the same reason.

Seventy years ago, Women Airforce Service Pilots flew 77 types of airplanes 60 million miles during World War II. Forty years ago, they won formal recognition for their service and were finally granted their honorable discharges. Five years ago, they received the Congressional Gold Medal. But last year,  the Secretary of the Army rescinded their eligibility to be inurned at Arlington National Cemetery. Now, the families of this dwindling group of veterans are fighting to ensure that the United States honors their service.

The women excluded from Arlington National Cemetery

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Today is Veteran’s Day and I want to take a minute to thank all the service men and women who have made such great sacrifices to defend this country.  This list includes my Dad, both my Mother & Father in Law and my Brother in Law.  You guys are an amazing family and I am so thankful to be a part of it. 

My photo tribute is to a group of WWii women who not everyone may know about, but are very inspirational.

WASP stands for Women Airforce Service Pilots, the first women in U.S. history to fly American military aircraft. During World War II, these intrepid “Fly Girls” voluntarily put their lives on the line in an experimental program to prove that women could successfully fly military aircraft. They received no rank or military honors for their service. WASP flew 60 million miles. They flew every type of military aircraft—from the fastest fighters to the heaviest bombers—and they piloted every type of mission flown by their male Army Air Force counterparts, except combat. That was their mission: to relieve male pilots for combat duty from non-combat, yet essential missions.

Shirley Slade, WWII WASP pilot of B-26 and B-39.

In 1942, the United States was faced with a severe shortage of pilots, so an experimental program to replace males with female pilots was created. The group of female pilots was called the Women Airforce Service Pilots — WASP for short. Shirley Slade was one of about 1,100 chosen. She was trained to fly the B-26 and B-39, and that got her put on the cover of Life magazine in 1943 at about 23 years old.

When the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve was formed in 1943, Ruth Cheney Streeter (1895-1990) became its first director. She was also the first woman to obtain the rank of major in the US Marine Corps.

She trained as a pilot, and tried unsuccessfully to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots, having been rejected five times on account of her age. While serving as the director of the USMCWR, she was promoted to colonel, and was awarded the Legion of Merit and the World War II Victory Medal.