MURKOWSKI: THREE ALASKANS IN LINE TO BE HONORED WITH THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate has passed legislation honoring the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II, including three living Alaskans, with the Congressional Gold Medal, America’s highest civilian award, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, announced today.
Passed Wednesday night by unanimous consent, the legislation seeks to recognize and honor the 1,074 women who received their WASP wings during World War II. Some 300 still survive and are living throughout America.
The three Alaskans are Nancy Lee Baker of Fairbanks, Ellen M. Campbell of Juneau and Virginia Wood of Fairbanks.
“These brave women faced cultural and gender bias, received unequal pay and didn’t have full military status during the war,” said Murkowski, an original co-sponsor of the legislation. “They even had to pay their own way home after the war. They have never received formal or public recognition for their wartime service to our nation. As we prepare to observe Memorial Day, it’s only appropriate for Congress to recognize and honor their service and award them the highest and most distinguished honor a civilian may receive.”
Between 1942 and 1944, young American women volunteered for flight training and service. By the war’s end, 1,074 female pilots had received their wings, making them America’s first women to fly military aircraft. They flew non-combat missions, so male pilots could be deployed in combat.
The bill must still pass the House of Representatives and be signed into law by President Obama before the medal can be awarded.