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With all due respect to Rosie the Riveter, let’s not forget about Amy the Aviator. While millions of American women joined the workforce during World War II, inspired by Rosie’s

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With all due respect to Rosie the Riveter, let’s not forget about Amy the Aviator. While millions of American women joined the workforce during World War II, inspired by Rosie’s

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With all due respect to Rosie the Riveter, let’s not forget about Amy the Aviator. While millions of American women joined the workforce during World War II, inspired by Rosie’s

With all due respect to Rosie the Riveter, let’s not forget about Amy the Aviator.

While millions of American women joined the workforce during World War II, inspired by Rosie’s iconic “We Can Do It!” campaign, a smaller number contributed to the war effort not in factories but in the wild blue yonder, as members of the innovative Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Some 25,000 women applied for the elite program, but only 1,074 earned their wings, including some who were assigned to Camp Davis, north of Wilmington, from 1943 to 1944.

Faced with a shortage of pilots, military leaders developed the WASP program to train women to fly military aircraft in the states, freeing up male pilots to go overseas for combat duty. WASPs flew less dangerous missions — at Camp Davis, for example, they towed targets for antiaircraft training — but their jobs were not without risk, and 38 women died in service to their country.

Because WASPs were considered civilian pilots, they weren’t given veteran status until 1977, when the oversight was corrected. In 2010, they were awarded the distinguished Congressional Gold Medal. To the WASPs of World War II, we salute you. You were never front and center like Rosie the Riveter, but your contributions to our country are no less riveting.

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This story was published on Apr 26, 2022

Jimmy Tomlin

Tomlin has been a features writer and columnist for the High Point Enterprise since 1990. His writing has won numerous state, regional, and national awards.