When in the middle of World War II the United States faced a shortage of pilots, women were recruited to help in fighting the Nazis and Japanese. These ladies began to fly noncombatant missions in order to free men for air combat fights.
That didn’t mean these female pilots faced no danger. In fact, 38 of them died during the war. One of them was Mabel Rawlinson, 26 years old when she died after her plane had a crash and she couldn’t get out. Since she was considered a civilian, the military wasn’t required to pay for her remains to be sent back home to Michigan.
In 1977, after years of struggling for recognition of these women as war veterans, the service of these Women Airforce Service Pilots finally was recognized by the federal law. Then, they became eligible to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
However, last year, the army revoked that right claiming limited space. This was followed by a legislative action taken by an Arizona Congresswoman, Martha McSally (R).
She proposed a new legislation, which has just passed in Congress. The new legislation is waiting for President Obama’s signature and will ensure that the ashes of Women Airforce Service Pilots get buried at Arlington National Cemetery.