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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | Nov. 23, 2008

World War II ‘Fly Girls’ Inducted, make historical landing in Women’s Memorial

By Airman Katie Justen Capital Flyer editor

The ivory-white walls bearing the newest exhibit in Washington D.C. wound around the halls of a memorial in a wave of nostalgia for landmark women in aviation history. Pictures, quotes, and graphics adorned the display to honor the first, and some of the bravest females who flew for their country in World War II. 

The Fly Girls of WWII kicked off its traveling exhibit at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Nov. 14. 

The exhibit is dedicated to the achievements of the Women Air Force Service Pilots who flew non-combat missions during the war. Many of these missions included ferrying planes between bases and from factories, testing reconstructed or new planes for safe flight, and even training male pilots in the methods of combat gunnery. 

Of the original 1,074 WASPs who flew for America between 1942 and 1944, 27 were in attendance at the opening of the exhibit -- in their service uniforms -- for this historic event. 

"I enjoyed seeing all of the pictures of us again; together in this wonderful exhibit," said Scotty Gough, WASP test pilot from now closed Williams Air Force Base, Ariz., after reaching up to touch pictures of friends on the wall. 

The exhibit displayed numerous pictures of the women and some in larger than life fashion; as if in testament to the monumental achievements they have made. They were also represented with uniformed mannequins, a timeline, memorabilia, and with an imitation filmstrip poster that served as a border for the exhibit and presented their young faces during their time of duty. 

Many of the WASP's family members and friends were in attendance at the event, as well as two famous key note speakers: Emmy-award-winning journalist and bestselling author Cokie Roberts, and Air Force Maj. Nicole Malachowski, the first woman pilot to fly for the Air Force Thunderbirds. 

After recounting a childhood memory of seeing a representation of the WASPs for the first time at the Air and Space Museum in D.C., Major Malachowski said, "With this exhibit here on hallowed ground, visited by millions of people every year, we are finally telling your story. Your service to our nation during a time of war is the stuff that legends are made of, and I think that the legacy you leave me with is that, when you have dedication, commitment and a desire to serve, you can overcome tremendous obstacles." 

The major continued, "Your service to our nation in a critical time of history, actually to the entire free world -- is remarkable not because you are women, but remarkable in its very own right." 

The WASP's exhibit at the WMSAM is slated to stay on display until November 2009.