Post Commander David Olson presents Lifetime Memership to WASP Mary Alice VandeventerDuring WWII 1,102 women (out of 25,000 who applied) became heroes, pilots, pioneers, and leaders--these women were known as the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). Mrs. Mary Alice Vandeventer of Lueders, Texas was one of the women who graduated from training at Avenger Field during WWII.
WASP were established during World War II with the main mission of women flying non-combat military missions in the United States hence freeing their male counterparts for combat missions. These pilots were the first women ever to fly American military aircraft. Thirty eight of them gave the ultimate sacrifice.
After training, the WASP were stationed at 120 air bases throughout the U.S. taking on numerous flight missions. They flew sixty million miles of operational flights from aircraft factories to ports of embarkation and military training bases, towed targets for live anti-aircraft artillery practice,flew virtual strafing missions, and transported troops and cargo. Every type of aircraft flown by the USAAF during WWII, including the early J.S. jet aircraft, were also flown by women in these roles. Between September 1942 and December 1944, the WASP delivered 12,650 aircraft.
These women were considered civilian service workers; therefore, did not receive any military honors. In June of 1944 a Bill went before U.S. House of Representatives to give these women military status, but after over a thousand male pilots lobbied against the idea and the Bill failed. The WASP were ordered in December 1944 to disband.
Mrs. Vandeventer was recently awarded a life membership it the American Legion, Clearfork Post #661 by Post Commander, David Olson. She was recognized due to her long time service to her post, her active years as Post Adjutant and her dedication to her country.
It is for her service that Mrs. Vandeventer will receive the Congressional Gold Medal which President Obama recently signed into law on July 1, 2009.
Mrs. Vandeventer is one of approximately 300 surviving WASP.
by Chuck Prewitt and Tiffany Waddell
Reprinted from p. 10 "THE WESTERN OBSERVER"
July 29, 2009
(edited for accuracy)