The Energizer

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My Mom just won the Congressional Gold Medal

by Eileen McDargh, Chief Energy Officer - Friday, July 03, 2009
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JULY 1, 2009

President Obama Signs Bill Awarding Congressional Gold Medal to Women Air Force Service Pilots First women to fly American military aircraft served courageously, blazed trails during WWII

WASHINGTON – President Obama today signed into law S. 614, a bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). WASP was established during World War II with the primary mission of flying non-combat military missions in the United States thus freeing their male counterparts for combat missions.

Its pilots were the first women ever to fly American military aircraft and flew almost every type of aircraft operated by the United States Army Air Force during World War II on a wide range of missions. “The Women Airforce Service Pilots courageously answered their country’s call in a time of need while blazing a trail for the brave women who have given and continue to give so much in service to this nation since,” said President Obama. “Every American should be grateful for their service, and I am honored to sign this bill to finally give them some of the hard-earned recognition they deserve.”

From 1942 to 1943, more than 1,000 women joined the WASP. 38 of them made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation in performing its mission. But their contribution went largely unrecognized for years, not even being acknowledged with veteran status until 1977. The groundbreaking steps taken by the WASP paved the way for hundreds of United States servicewomen combat pilots who have flown fighter aircraft in recent conflicts.

The bipartisan effort in Congress to recognize the contributions of the WASP was led by Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) an Susan Davis (D-CA). At today’s signing, President Obama and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen were joined by three members of WASP as well as five active duty United States Air Force pilots who have followed in their footsteps.

The names of the pilots in attendance are below:

Women’s Airforce Service Pilots

Elaine Danforth Harmon
Lorraine H. Rodgers
Bernice Falk Haydu

Active Duty United States Air Force Pilots

Colonel Dawn Dunlop
Colonel Bobbi Doorenbos
Lieutenant Colonel Wendy Wasik
Major Kara Sandifur
Major Nicole Malachowski

FOR my readers: Major Nicole Malachowski is the first female Thunderbird--the Air Force's crack exhibition squadron. We met on September 11 and she was a major spokesperson for this award, stating that the WASP (as they were called) helped her to take the cockpit of her fighter plane.

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Eileen McDargh Keynote Speaker Blog Author

About Eileen!

Since beginning her consulting and training practice in 1980, Eileen has become noted for her ability to speak the truth with clarity, wisdom, humor and compassion. Long-standing clients and repeat engagements attest to her commitment to make a difference in minds, hearts and spirits of organizations and individuals. She draws upon practical business know-how, life's experiences and years of consulting to major national and international organizations that have ranged from global pharmaceuticals to the US Armed Forces, from health care associations to religious institutions. Executive Excellence magazine selected her as one of the top 100 thought leaders in leadership and among the top ten consultant providers of leadership development.

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