Magazine article Army

Granddaughter Battles to Change Arlington Cemetery Law

Magazine article Army

Granddaughter Battles to Change Arlington Cemetery Law

Article excerpt

Granddaughter Battles to Change Arlington Cemetery Law Final Flight Final Fight: My Grandmother, the WASP, and Arlington National Cemetery. Erin Miller. 4336 Press. 350 pages. $25

As the U.S. prepared to enter World War II, the fledgling U.S. Army Air Corps needed every aviator it could find. With pilots in short supply, the government established pilot training programs. In the process, officials sought out anyone who could qualify-man or woman.

Not long after Pearl Harbor, the government established a special program for female aviators known as the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Throughout the war, WASP served as flight instructors, ferried aircraftto combat theaters and even transported parts for the atomic bomb.

Over the course of the war, over 1,000 women qualified for the WASP program, with 38 losing their lives in accidents. Although WASP took part in military training, wore uniforms and even saluted officers, they weren't officially considered part of the military. Those who were killed were sent home in pine boxes at their families' expense. They weren't even authorized to have an American flag draped over their coffins.

Decades later, former WASP Elaine "Gammy" Harmon succumbed to cancer at age 95. Her handwritten instructions to her family were, "I would like to be buried in Arlington Cemetery. Proof of my veteran status is necessary." What follows is the subject of the book Final Flight Final Fight: My Grandmother, the WASP, and Arlington National Cemetery, written by Harmon's granddaughter, Erin Miller. …

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