Female WWII Pilots to Be Buried Again in Arlington

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May 22, 2016

Female American pilots who served during World War II can now officially be buried alongside their male armed services counterparts, the result of a law passed unanimously by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama.

Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) had been buried at Arlington National Cemetery since 2002. However, in 2015, John McHugh, at the time the Army Secretary, ruled that federal law prohibited female pilots from being buried at Arlington. The family of one of the WASPs, 2nd Lt. Elaine Danforth Harmon (left), led the drive to change that policy.

Tiffany Miller and her sisters Erin and Whitney led an online campaign to restore their grandmother’s right to be buried at Arlington. Harmon was alive at the time the drive began but died in April. She was 95.

The WASPs were a group of 1,074 female pilots who served in the U.S. military in 1942–1944, ferrying planes, towing targets for gunnery training, acting as flight instructors, and flying missions. In the process, 11 died in training exercises and 27 died during missions.

Congress granted WASPs veteran status in 1977 and awarded them the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.

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