Friday, December 7, 2007

Ann Darr: WWII Pilot and Poet, 44-W-3

"I was raised in Iowa, a prairie child, and all we had was sky. My mother was killed in an auto crash when I was three. I was told I could see her again in heaven. The only way I knew to get there was to fly."1
" (in her own words from "Out of the Blue and into History" by WASP Betty Stagg Turner)

Ann Darr, WWII pilot, poet, creative writing professor, radio broadcaster, and mother of three passed away on December 2, 2007 in Chicago. Ann was born in Bagley, Iowa in 1920, graduated from the University of Iowa in 1941, worked for NBC radio in New York, and was one of the first women military pilots to serve in WWII as a Women’s Air Force Service Pilot (WASP).

While with NBC radio in 1942 Ann was a writer and broadcaster for The Woman of Tomorrow. As a WWII pilot Ann was stationed in Sweetwater, Texas. Over 25,000 women signed up to join the WASPs and only 1074 earned wings. The WASPs flew over 60 million miles in every aircraft the Air Force had: small trainers, B-26s, B-17s, UC-78s, P-51 fighters, and the B-29 Super Fortress. By the time the WASPs were disbanded on December 20, 1944, 38 of the pilots died in airplane crashes. The first B-29 flight by the WASP’s was to show men who balked at flying it that this was a plane “even women could fly.”

Ann was a prolific writer and author of eight books of poetry: Flying the Zuni Mountains, St. Ann’s Gut, The Myth of a Woman’s Fist, Riding With the Fireworks, Cleared for Landing, Do You Take This Woman, The Twelve Pound Cigarette, and Confessions of a Skewed Romantic. Ann’s poetry readings criss crossed the world from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. to Prague, Czechoslovakia.She taught creative writing up until the age of 80 at American University in Washington, D.C., the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, and other universities throughout the country. She raised her family with her husband, George in Chevy Chase, MD.

In commemoration of the WWII Memorial Ann wrote an article for The New York Times Magazine, May 7, 1995, The Women Who Flew—but Kept Silent and for U.S. News and World Reports: The Long Flight Home: Women Served and Died in WWII. Now they are remembered.

While in her 70’s Ann toured Western Europe with other artists, writers, and musicians as a member of Point-Counter Point. This artistic troupe would float from city to city on a large river barge, dock, and then put on a day of cultural exchange with the local citizens. Ann once wrote to a friend what she wanted to appear on her tombstone: Late in life she ran away from home and joined the circus.

After I ran away from home and came back again, my Papa said go if you must but mind three things: stay away from water, stay off of boats, and don’t go up in an aeroplane. So first I learned to swim, then I learned to sail, and then I learned to fly.
A Poem from Flying the Zuni Mountains

Ann was stricken with Alzheimers and lived in nursing homes near her daughters in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Chicago, Illinois over the past six years. Ann is survived by her three daughters: Dr. Elizabeth Darr, Worcester, MA, Deborah Darr (Kevin Shanley), Chicago, IL, and Shannon Darr-Longstaff, Eliot, ME.; grandchildren: Judson Lester, Vera Lester, Travis Longstaff, Taygra Longstaff, and many other great friends and relatives. A memorial service will be held at Arlington National Cemetery in the spring.

Contact person:
Deborah Darr

Other links:

"The Long Flight Home"
"Flying the Zuni Mountains"
"Cleared for Landing"
"Love in the Past Tense"
DOD Article
Photo: Ann & her daughter, Deborah

Monday, December 3, 2007

WASP Doris LeFever Garrison, 43-W-7

Concord - Doris LeFevre Garrison, 91, of Concord, and recently of Framingham, died Friday, Oct. 12, 2007, after a short illness. Her husband of 60 years, John Leland Garrison, died in 2005.

Mrs. Garrison was born in Schenectady, N.Y., where her father, I.D. LeFevre, was comptroller of the General Electric Company. She graduated from Brown School and Mount Holyoke College, and received a master’s degree in teaching from Columbia University.

In World War II, Mrs. Garrison served in the WASPs (Women’s Air Force Service Pilots), a group of women pilots recruited by Jackie Cochran for non-combat flying missions. During her time in the service, Mrs. Garrison was a member of a tow-target squadron and a group that ferried B-25 bombers between Texas and California.

She was a resident of Rye, N.Y., for 40 years before moving to Concord 12 years ago. In Rye, she taught for many years at Rye Country Day School, and volunteered in the League of Women Voters and Planned Parenthood of Westchester. She was active in the Rye Presbyterian Church and a member of Manursing Island Club and the Apawamis Golf Club.

Mrs. Garrison leaves her daughter, Jeanne Garrison of Cambridge, and her son, John Mark Garrison of Sherborn; two grandsons and a sister, Jeanne Hauser, of Palo Alto, Calif.

Services will be private.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


A spotlight article on WASP Shutsy Reynolds and why she wanted to fly since age seven. PDF file of article, written by Margaret Clevenger for the NOV/DEC 2007 issue of Pennsylvania Magazine is now online. Click title to see the article.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


November 10, 2007

The Veteran's Day 'TEXAS AIR FIESTA' was held at the air field at the Texas State Technical College, known during World War II as the Waco Army Air Field. It was at this air field that sixteen WASP were stationed during 1944. One of those WASP, Bette Mae Scott, 44-3, was killed July 6, 1944, just off the end of the runway.

The air show, with its ALL-GIRL ground crew, air marshalers and pyro team, was dedicated to the WASP. Marion Hodgson, 43-5; Jo Wheelis, 43-5; and Deanie Parrish, 44-4 were honored guests of the Ranger Wing. Nancy Parrish was their escort. They were given 'above and beyond' VIP treatment, including an impromptu ride down the flight line in a golf cart driven by Lt. Col. Jill Long, an Air Force A10 Thunderbolt pilot, veteran of Afghanistan, with over 3,000 hours. She is amazing! Jill was the FEATURED PERFORMER at the show, and not only dedicated her aerobatic 'show-stopper' in her "RAGGED EDGE" Pitts S2B to the WASP, the announcer kept broadcasting all the wonderful accolades she had written about the WASP. It would have made all of you proud! Jill's online site:

Among those aircraft participating in the air show were Marine ONE and Marine TWO--and six blackhawks--the helicopters which are the official transporation & gunship escort when the President travels to Crawford from the airport. (One of those blackhawk pilots & crew chief were female.) The President was at his ranch just 30 miles West of Waco. Air Force One was parked directly across the tarmac and runways, clearly visible to the thousands of people attending the air show. Some pilots, who had planned to participate in the air show but whose aircraft did not have transponders, were not allowed to land in Waco because of the proximity of the President.

With the popular Wings Across America 'Fly Girls of WWII' WASP exhibit in the prestigious Mayborn Museum Complex and the terrific air show dedicated to the WASP, people all across Texas are beginning to know who the WASP were-and are!

It was a great day for the WASP and for Waco.
For more shots of the airshow, visit the Tribune Herald's slideshow!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

'ABOVE & BEYOND WITH FLYING COLORS--Women Airforce Service Pilots

For the WASP, in honor of VETERAN's DAY--this is an article written for the USAF 60th Anniversary publication: USAF FOUNDING CENTENNIAL & 60TH ANNIVERSARY 1907 - 1947 - 2007

I was honored to be a part of the book and grateful that the history of the WASP was included.
Preface by President George W. Bush
Forward by Michael W. Wynne
Introduction by General T. Michael Moseley.
Article begins on p. 67 of the publication.
Click the title to see the layout, table of contents and photos online.


By Nancy Allyson Parrish

Preface by President George W. Bush
Forward by Michael W. Wynne
Introduction by General T. Michael Moseley.

"If a fighting war should (ever again) eventuate, I would… willingly lay aside my manifold civilian obligations…and if necessary, in the lowest rank, crawl across the country on my hands and knees to be of aid to my country."
Jacqueline Cochran, 1954

Over a decade before Jacqueline Cochran spoke those words, she fought against stereotypes, red tape, apathy and public opinion to prove that, if women pilots were given the same training as male aviation cadets, they would be equally capable of flying military aircraft for their country. As the exemplary flying records of 1,102 WWII Women Airforce Service Pilots prove, she was right.

During the 1930’s, Jacqueline Cochran became one of the world's foremost women pilots and visionaries. In September of 1939, realizing the importance of air power, Ms. Cochran wrote First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt about her vision of training women pilots so they could release male pilots for combat, should the need arise. That same month, Hitler invaded Poland.

As America's allies struggled against the German Blitzkrieg, women pilots joined the fight. In Russia, "Night Witches" flew combat missions, and in England, led by Pauline Gower, women from England, Australia, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Poland and Chile ferried aircraft for the RAF as part of the ATA (British Air Transport Auxiliary). In America, Ms. Cochran persisted in her quest for a military flying training program for American women, meeting with General Hap Arnold, Commanding General of the Army Air Force in 1941.

America had not yet entered the war. General Arnold suggested that she fly a lend-lease bomber to England to publicize the need for pilots overseas. While in England she had an opportunity to study the ATA and formulate her own plan. Ms. Cochran's plan included military flight training, organization and regulations for women pilots to serve as part of the Army Air Forces. She was confident that, with training, women pilots could serve in every stateside flying capacity in every command in the Army Air Force. As she later wrote, "I insisted that if women were to be used … it should be on an organized basis. Otherwise, I was afraid the female effort would be a flash in the pan."

Returning from England, she met again with General Arnold. He was still not convinced: "Frankly, I didn't know in 1941 whether a slip of a girl could fight the controls of a B-17 in heavy weather." So, with the General's blessing, Ms. Cochran recruited 25 outstanding American women pilots for the ATA and took them to England. General Arnold did promise that, when the time was right, he would send for her to put her plan into effect. After Pearl Harbor and heavy losses in North Africa, General Arnold, in desperate need of pilots, asked her to return to America to implement her training program.

On September 15, 1942, the Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD), headed by Director Jacqueline Cochran, was officially approved, and two months later, the first group of women pilot trainees paid their own way to Houston, Texas to enter Army Air Force flight training. As they raised their right hands and took the Oath "To serve, protect and defend …so help me God," they were assured that they would eventually be militarized. However, because there was a severe shortage of combat pilots, General Arnold wanted to 'get them in the air' and worry about Congressional militarization later.

Due to lack of facilities in Houston, the program was soon moved to Avenger Field, Sweetwater, Texas, where the women pilots received the same training as the male cadets, with the exception of more cross country flying and less aerobatics. During the nearly seven months of flight training, with AAF officers and personnel in command, trainees lived by military rules and, after graduating, reported to military commanders at Army air fields and bases across America.

In September, 1942 Nancy Harkness Love, an outstanding woman pilot, recruited 27 licensed women pilots to fly as civilian ferry pilots (Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Service) for the Air Transport Command. In 1943, General Arnold ordered the WFTD and WAFS to merge and named them Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Jacqueline Cochran was named Director of Women Pilots and Nancy Love continued to head the ferrying operations.

Before the WASP program was terminated, 25,000 women had applied, 1,830 were accepted, but only 1,074 graduated. From the first day of training to the day the WASP hung up their Army parachutes for the last time, everything the women pilots did was scrutinized, measured and recorded. Their health, weight, strength, skill, stamina, patience and perseverance were tested. Every time a WASP stepped into a new kind of aircraft, it was a groundbreaking experiment on behalf of all women pilots. As every WASP knew, if one WASP failed, the whole program would be at risk.

They did not fail. In fact, they EXCEEDED beyond all expectations. In two years, at 120 air bases across America, WASP flew over 60 million miles, in every type aircraft and on every type mission any male AAF pilot flew, except combat. WASP attended Pursuit School and Officer Candidate School. They flew strafing, night tracking and smoke laying missions. They towed targets for air-to-air and ground-to-air gunnery practice, with gunnery recruits firing live ammunition. They ferried planes and transported cargo, personnel and parts of the atomic bomb. They instructed, flew weather missions and test flew repaired aircraft. WASP even flew aircraft that male pilots refused to fly, including the B-26 "Widow Maker" and the B-29 "Super Fortress," to prove to the male pilots they were safe to fly. They flew with an unwavering urgency and a passion for their mission: to free male pilots for combat. WASP not only passed every test, they outscored their male counterparts.

Thirty-eight WASP were killed flying for their country. Because they were officially civilians, their bodies were sent home in cheap pine boxes, their burial at the expense of their family or classmates. These heroic pilots were denied any military benefits or honors – no gold star allowed in their parents' window, no American flag for their coffins. Three weeks before a 44-W-4 trainee was to graduate, her mother received an official telegram from the country her daughter so proudly served. It simply said: "Your daughter was killed this morning. Where do you want us to ship the body?"

When victory seemed certain, the WASP were quietly and unceremoniously disbanded, without any benefits, honors and few thanks. On 7 December 1944, in a speech to the last graduating class, General Arnold said,

If ever there was any doubt in anyone's mind that women can become skillful pilots, the WASP have dispelled that doubt…You and more than 900 of your sisters have shown you can fly wingtip to wingtip with your brothers. …I salute you and all the WASP. We of the Army Air Force are proud of you. We will never forget our debt to you."

Thirteen days later, the WASP were disbanded. They hung up their parachutes and paid their way back home. Their military records were classified “confidential” and filed away in government archives, where they remained, unopened, for the next 33 years, unavailable to historians who wrote the official accounts of WWII. The AAF did forget -- and so did America.

In November, 1977, under the leadership of General Arnold's son, Col. Bruce Arnold, USAF Ret., surviving WASP, and Senator Barry Goldwater, Congress narrowly voted to give WASP the Veteran status they had earned. WASP were not even invited to the bill signing. Their medals came in the mail.

2007 marks the 65th Anniversary of the WASP, the first women in history to fly America’s military aircraft. Today, there are fewer than 400 surviving WASP. However, their legacy lives on in the skies over Afghanistan and Iraq, as American women pilots serve their country, flying wingtip to wingtip with their brothers, and it reaches out to inspire those who fly into the darkness of space: "The WASP were and still are my role models." (Astronaut Eileen Collins)

On December 7, 1944 General Barton K. Yount, Commanding General, Army Air Forces Training Command said:

“We shall not forget the accomplishments of our women fliers and their contributions to the fulfillment of our mission. They have demonstrated a courage which is sustained, not by the fevers of combat, but the steady heartbeat of faith—a faith in the rightness of our cause, and a faith in the importance of their work to the men who do go into combat."

Jacqueline Cochran knew, without a doubt, that if women were given a chance, they would fly wingtip to wingtip with their brothers. Because of her vision and determination, the pioneering women of the WASP were given an unprecedented opportunity. They did not disappoint. They served their country with honor, with courage, with integrity, with faith and with patriotism. The WASP passed every test, flying



*Santiago blue is the color of the WASP uniform, designed for the WASP by Bergdorf Goodman (New York) and approved by Gen. Hap Arnold and Gen. George C. Marshall. Today, it is called Air Force blue!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

WASP Elizabeth "Betty" Shipley

WASP Betty Shipley, 44-W-4, passed away on October 17, 2007.

IN HER OWN WORDS--from Betty Turner's


"I was born on October 4, 1916, in Zamboanga, Philippine Islands. We lived in the Philippine Islands until I was seven years old. My father was in private business. I went to high school in Ontario, California, and went to Santa Barbara State, California, and did graduate work at University of California at Los Angeles and University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.

After graduation, a school in Burbank, California hired me. One of my student's fathers was a test pilot for Lockheed aircraft, and would fly his P-38 over the playground at our school. My brother was a Navy pilot, and many of my friends were joining the Army Air Corps, so I developed a keen interest in flying and wanted to do my part for the war effort.

A friend of my family, Ethel Sheehy, told me about Jacqueline Cochran and her program. I applied, and found I had to have 35 hours flying time and a private pilot's license. I learned to fly in a J-3 cub at Blythe, California. I was accepted in the WASP October 1, 1943, in class 44-4.

I was assigned to Independence, Kansas, flew BT-14, flew OSI and administrative personnel to various bases. I transferred to Perrin Field, Sherman, Texas, flight -testing BT-13's, after repairs. Ferried PT-19's and PT-17's to Kelly AFB for storage. Then sent to Foster Field, Victoria, Texas, flying the AT-6. I was transferred back to Perrin Field and married Lt. Francis Shipley. I continued to ferry planes from closed primary bases to Kelly AFB for storage.

After deactivation, I refused the offered reserve commission in the Army Air Corps to be with my husband. In 1956, I went back to teaching. I taught at military bases in Japan, the Philippines, Georgia, Arizona and Texas. When my husband retired in 1969, I accepted a teaching assignment at Randolph AFB and remained there for 15 years. I always taught Air Force children throughout my educational career.

I have two sons, David Peyton Shipley, married, who has two sons Jeffrey and Steve. They live in Tucson. David went through Fire Fighters Academy. He has been doing that for the past 11 years, loves his work. His wife is an architect. Charles was Vice-President of Arizona State Chamber of Commerce. He was the seventh biggest lobbyist in the state, a true political person. He is divorced and is notw President of The Arizona Mining Association.

I was chairman of the San Antonio WASP Convention in September 1992, and I am as active as I can be in the WASP Organization. Now I am Chairman of the TWU (Texas Women University) WASP Endowment Fund.

(from page 352-353)

The official notification from her family is included below--it reflects their love and respect for this unique woman.

Elizabeth Williamson Shipley

Beginning: October 4, 1916 | Ending: October 15, 2007

"In between was a wonderful life | her father said "you can do anything you put your mind to," and she did | a loving wife | a widow | a teacher | a pilot | a WASP | a sister | a mother of David Shipley and Charles Shipley (deceased) | a grandmother of four: Chris, Colin, Jeff, and Steve | a faithful friend | a military supporter | she was adventurous | loved to laugh | played golf and bunko | an independent spirit | she adored her family | traveled the world | was naive | feisty | hardheaded | very loving | she loved ice cream | poked the bottoms of See's Chocolate till she found her favorites | ate lots of chocolate | Betty | Hot Liz | Grammy | Ma Shipley | she will be greatly missed.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Alzheimer's Association or the American Diabetes Association.


ADA Research Foundation
Attn: Individual Giving Dept.
1701 N. Beauregard St.
Alexandria, VA

Alzheimer's Association
225 N. Michigan Ave.
FL 17


Monday, November 5, 2007


A wonderful IN DEPTH article by Lynn Bulmahm is the FEATURE article in the WACOAN MAGAZINE for the month of November, 2007. The article spotlights the Wings Across America project as well as the "FLYGIRLS OF WWII" Exhibit at the Mayborn.

To order a copy, visit their site, or email me and I'll send you one.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

"UNSUNG HEROES OF THE SKY" Exhibit lands in Waco

Exhibit highlights World War II efforts of Women Airforce Service Pilots --article by Terri Jo Ryan Nov. 3, 2007

Waco Tribune Herald's "UNSUNG HEROES OF THE SKY" SLIDESHOW--now online.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Farewell to General Tibbets

The man who believed that WASP could fly anything, including the B-29, has died. Paul Tibbets passed away today, Thursday, Nov. 1, at his Columbus, Ohio home.

Because of his belief in the airworthiness of the B-29 and his faith in the training and the skill of women pilots, 2 WASP were given the opportunity to fly the B-29. Once male pilots witnessed these 2 women flying the largest 4 engine bomber in the Army Air Force arsenal, the men no longer considered it unsafe to fly.

His leadership came at such a crucial time in our nation's history. His legacy is one of courage, honor and sacrifice.

*to read a letter from B-29 pilot Harry McKeown to WASP Dora Dougherty

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wonderful Recognition for Special WASP

WASP Scotty Gough was recently inducted into the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame.

WASP Ola Mildred (REXY) Rexroat, the only Native American WASP, was recently inducted into the South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame. Inducted posthumously, WASP Trainee Helen Jo Severson, one of the 38 WASP killed during her service to her country.

Congratulations to these very special ladies, who deserve our thanks for their service.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Mayborn extends the Flygirls of WWII exhibit!

The Mayborn Museum Complex has graciously extended the stay of Wings Across America's "FLYGIRLS OF WWII" exhibit--now on display in the Baylor Exhibit Area. For more information, visit the Mayborn online.


November 10, 2007, the Ranger Wing of the Commemorative Air Force honors WASP at their annual TEXAS AIR FIESTA--which honors ALL Veterans. Airshow is free to the public and held at the old Waco Army Air Field, where WASP were stationed during WWII.


GREAT DISPLAY POSTERS, calendars and cards, created to tell the story of the WASP and to inspire and motivate those who didn't know--with an extraordinary untold history. ALL proceeds help Wings Across America.