Rep. Susan Davis Praises House Passage of Bill to Allow WASP Access to Arlington

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Washington, DC, March 22, 2016 | comments

U.S. Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) praised the passage of bipartisan legislation to restore the inurnment rights for Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) at Arlington National Cemetery. Davis is a lead cosponsor of the WASP Arlington Inurnment Restoration (AIR) Act (H.R. 4336) to overturn a recent decision by the Secretary of the Army that rescinded inurnment eligibility for WASP pilots.

"We are a step closer to correcting this injustice,” said Davis, Ranking Member of the Military Personnel Subcommittee. “When the call came to serve in World War II, the WASP answered that call like millions of other Americans. All of these women were very patriotic and wanted to serve their country in every way possible.  Arlington National Cemetery has always been considered a special place of honor and the WASP deserve full honors.

The WASP were a group of less than 1,100 women who flew non-combat missions during World War II. Their missions included ferrying aircraft across the country, training combat pilots, and towing airborne targets for other aircraft. Thirty-eight WASP women died during their service.

In 1942, General Henry “Hap” Arnold created the WASP unit with the intention of granting them full military status, though Congress never approved the plan. The program ran from 1942 to 1944.  In 1977, Congress passed legislation retroactively granting active duty status to WASP pilots for the purposes of all laws administered by the VA. In 2009, Congress awarded the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal.

Arlington National Cemetery, which is run by the Army, approved in 2002 active duty designees, including WASP pilots, for military honors and inurnments.  However, in March 2015, then-Secretary of the Army John McHugh reversed this decision.

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