Diminishing but not Forgotten
Well, almost forgotten. I’m referring to the 1074 WASP (Women Air Force Service Pilots) who served this country during WWII. They took over all the domestic war time aviation duties so male pilots could fly combat missions. Collectively, they flew some 60 million air miles, towing targets for gunnery practice with live ammunition, ferrying planes, and testing planes just off the factory line. It was not without hazard… 38 of them died in the course of duty.
And when the WASP were disbanded, they were forgotten by the Air Force. Women were forbidden to fly military planes again for 30 years!
Mom was a WASP and it is through our bi-annual reunions I met so many of these amazing women. Mom took her final flight in January 2012 and March 15, 2018, 95 year-old Florence Shutsy Reynolds left this earth. That leaves only 62 of these incredible women left to tell their story.
I write this post to salute Shutsy, who though late to the WASP effort, made up for it in her zeal and artistry to preserve and create all manner of items that can be passed down for generations. She created the WASP store and went on reproducing beautiful silver wings and wing jewelry to help share the history of the WASP. Her 3' x 12' airbrushed banners were each created especially for WASP and visitors to sign at airshows and aviation events across America.
During her tenure at Stores, she designed the WASP WWII Flag, which was voted OFFICIAL WASP WWII FLAG by the WASP organization. She also created the WASP SCARF, which is still worn proudly by WASP across the country. In 1994, Shutsy designed the WASP 50th Anniversary commemorative medallion, the WASP WWII collectible pin and in 1998, the logo for the Kids of the WASP, KOWS as I named us!
For her service to her country, she was awarded the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. She was also awarded an honorable service lapel button and Woman’s Army Corps Service Medal. She was a ground instructor certified in Link training, navigation, meteorology, aircraft, and engines. And like all the WASP, received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010… some 60 years after their service.
Shutsy, your spirit, unbridled energy, and determination will long be remembered. Happy landings.