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Legislation creating the Women’s Army Corps becomes law

Legislation creating the Women’s Army Corps becomes law

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On May 15, 1942, a bill establishing a women’s corps in the U.S. Army becomes law, creating the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAACs) and granting women official military status.

In May 1941, Representative Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts, the first congresswoman ever from New England, introduced legislation that would enable women to serve in the Army in noncombat positions. Rogers was well suited for such a task; during her husband John J. Rogers’ term as congressman, Rogers was active as a volunteer for the Red Cross, the Women’s Overseas League, and military hospitals. Because of her work inspecting field and base hospitals, President Warren G. Harding, in 1922, appointed her as his personal representative for inspections and visits to veterans’ hospitals throughout the country. She was eventually appointed to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, as chairwoman in the 80th and 83rd Congresses.

READ MORE: How Women Fought Their Way Into the U.S. Armed Forces

The bill to create a Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps would not be passed into law for a year after it was introduced (the bombing of Pearl Harbor was a great incentive). But finally, the WAACs gained official status and salary—but still not all the benefits accorded to men. Thousands of women enlisted in light of this new legislation, and in July 1942, the “auxiliary” was dropped from the name, and the Women’s Army Corps, or WACs, received full Army benefits in keeping with their male counterparts.

The WACs performed a wide variety of jobs, “releasing a man for combat,” as the Army, sensitive to public misgivings about women in the military, touted. But those jobs ranged from clerk to radio operator, electrician to air-traffic controller. Women served in virtually every theater of engagement, from North Africa to Asia.

It would take until 1978 before the Army would become sexually integrated, and women participating as merely an “auxiliary arm” in the military would be history. And it would not be until 1980 that 16,000 women who had joined the earlier WAACs would receive veterans’ benefits.

READ MORE: Women in WWII Took on These Dangerous Military Jobs

Women's Armed Services Integration Act

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Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, law enacted in 1948 that permitted women to serve as full members of the U.S. armed forces.

During World War I many women had enlisted as volunteers in the U.S. military services they usually served in clerical roles. When the war ended, they were released from their duties. The same was true during World War II, when an even greater number of women volunteers served in the armed forces. Although the U.S. Congress in 1943 had given the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) full army status during wartime, the WAC law was scheduled to expire on June 30, 1948. In anticipation of this event, the leaders of the U.S. Army in 1946 requested that the WACs be made a permanent part of their personnel. Following two years of legislative debate, the bill was passed by Congress in the spring of 1948. Signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on June 12, 1948, as the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, it enabled women to serve as permanent, regular members of not only the army but also the navy, marine corps, and the recently formed air force. The law limited the number of women who could serve in the military to 2 percent of the total forces in each branch.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Chelsey Parrott-Sheffer, Research Editor.

The issue of protective legislation for women and mothers has divided reformers, labor unionists, legislators, courts, the military, and feminists since the end of the 19th century when a number of states passed statutes to limit women’s work hours. At issue—equal treatment versus biological difference. During the Cold War era, this question informed the debate on the role of women in the military. Although the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948 established a permanent presence for women in all branches of the armed forces, a new Army regulation in October 1949 required the discharge of female servicewomen with children under the age of 18. To guarantee passage of the Armed Forces Reserve Act of 1952, during the Korean War, a provision was dropped that would have reversed this regulation. Thus mothers of dependent children were ineligible to enlist in reserve units and were discharged after childbirth or adoption. In the following Congressional session, the Senate passed S. 1492, allowing the reinstatement of women with dependent children. The bill, however, died in the House Committee on Armed Services and failed to become law. The following testimony of Women’s Army Corps Director Colonel Irene O. Galloway, to the Senate subcommittee on S. 1492, presented the Department of Defense position opposing the bill. Galloway argued that in the event of an emergency mobilization, such women could not and should not be counted on to leave their duties as mothers to join activated units. In the 1970s, Congress finally passed a law that allowed women with dependent children to enlist.

Statement of Col. Irene O. Galloway, Director, Women’s Army Corps

Colonel GALLOWAY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.

I am Colonel Galloway, Director of the Women’s Army Corps. It is my privilege to represent the Department of Defense before your committee. I shall read my opening statement, copies of which I have distributed to all of you as I thought perhaps you would like to follow as I read.

I should like to express the position of the Department of Defense concerning the proposed legislation, Senate bill 1492, which provides that the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force shall establish adequate provisions with respect to female Reserve and former Reserve officers and enlisted women, to insure that such personnel shall not be declared ineligible for appointment or enlistment in the Reserve solely on the basis of having minor or dependent children, and that such personnel shall not be discharged involuntarily from the Reserve solely because of the birth or assumption of care or custody of such children.

It is felt that the proposed legislation would not serve the best interests of the Nation. The purpose of the Reserve is to provide the Armed Forces with well-trained, quickly available, mobile manpower and womanpower in the event of mobilization. Inevitably, this purpose would in most cases, collide with the paramount responsibilities of mothers to their children. This Nation would not and should not tolerate the ordering of women from their homes with no adequate arrangements for the care of their children. Many women would find it impossible or ill advised to make such arrangements. Their military training would be lost to the Nation at the moment most needed Reserve units to which they belonged would be disrupted.

The question then arises, if mobilization occurs, can these mothers be assigned to military service in their own communities, live at home, and supervise their children during offduty hours? For some women, who happen to dwell in communities where a military need for their specialties exists, this arrangement might be possible, although it is obvious that the usual rule of availability for duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, could not be applied to them. Many women, however, would not be so conveniently located they could not be used at all. Their training would be wasted.

We are all concerned with the necessity of getting the most from every dollar spent for defense. Money for Reserve training is limited. I do not see how we can possibly justify investing any portion of it in the training of personnel whom we cannot be reasonably sure of placing on active duty in mobilization. If M-day comes, the expansion of the Armed Forces will give ample opportunity to recruit those women whose children have grown and whose circumstances permit then to offer their full time and energy to the Armed Forces. I feel that it will be much more economical and effective to give refresher training then to women we are sure we have than to train a large number of reservists, many of whom will not be able to serve when needed.

We must consider whether, by excluding women with minor children from the Reserve, we are denying them the citizens' right to serve their Nation. I feel certain that we are not. The nurture of their children is their first and greatest contribution to the national welfare. In addition, every community offers opportunities for public service through the Red Cross and other organizations which can utilize such time as the mother can spare from her home without detriment to her children.

In sum, it is the view of the Department of Defense that a mother’s duty to her children takes precedence over any other responsibility, hence that the Armed Forces could not count on her services in mobilization and should not invest in her training as a reservist. It is therefore respectively recommended that Senate bill 1492 not be enacted into law. . . .

Source: Appointment or Retention of Certain Female Reserve Personnel with Minor Children, Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, 83rd Congress, 1st Session, on S. 1492, May 14 and 15, 1953. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1953.

Legislation creating the Women’s Army Corps becomes law - HISTORY

Journalist, politician, and civil servant, Oveta Culp Hobby worked to better her community and her country throughout her lifetime. She is best known for serving as the director of the Women’s Army Corps and as the first secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Oveta Culp Hobby was born on January 19, 1905 in Killeen, Texas to Isaac William Culp and Emma Elizabeth Hoover. Hobby’s father was a lawyer and state legislator, who instilled in her an interest in law and politics from a young age.

She graduated from Temple High School and went on to attend classes at what is now known as the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor for two years, but she did not complete her studies. In 1925, Hobby was asked to work as a legislative parliamentarian in the Texas House of Representatives, which she carried out until 1931. At the same time, she attended classes in law at the University of Texas, but never completed her degree.

Hobby also became involved in a number of political activities in the 1920s. She helped organize the National Democratic Convention in Houston in 1928, and worked on Thomas T. Connally’s US Senate campaign. She also ran for the Texas state legislature, but did not win.

In the 1930s and onwards, Hobby started working in the publishing world on her husband, former Governor of Texas William P. Hobby’s newspaper The Post in Houston. She held a number of positions within the paper including book editor and executive vice president. In 1937, she wrote and published a book, Mr. Chairman, about her activities at the Texas state legislature.

World War II brought changes to Hobby’s life. From 1941 to 1942, she served as the head of the Women’s Interest Section in the War Department Bureau of Public Relations. In this role, she investigated ways in which women could serve their country and laid the groundwork for them to do so by the time that the US entered the war.

After war was declared in December 1941, the country mobilized its troops. Discussions also began in the government about the possibility of women serving in the military. Congress passed a bill which created the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) in May 1942. Hobby became the first director of the WAAC. In 1943, she obtained the rank of colonel, when the WAAC became integrated into the army, changing its name to the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). She remained the director of the WAC throughout the war. For her dedication and effective supervision of the WAC, Hobby was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for outstanding service by the army in January 1945. She was the first woman in the Army to receive this award, which was the highest non-combat award given by the military at that time.

Hobby resigned from the WAC in July 1945, but continued to lead an active work life. She returned to The Post as its executive vice president. She also sat on a number of charity boards including: the American Red Cross, and the American Cancer Society.

Hobby maintained her interest in politics and political causes. During Republican candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidential campaign, Hobby actively supported his bid for office. After Eisenhower became president in 1953, he appointed Hobby chairman of the Federal Security Agency (FSA), which oversaw public health, education, and social security funding. In April 1953, Eisenhower created the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and abolished the FSA. In the process, he named Hobby as the first secretary of the new department. In this role, she worked on matters related to health, education, and educational funding. During her time as secretary at the department, she helped plan for the first distribution of the newly created polio vaccination in the United States in 1955. She stepped down from the job in 1955.

Throughout the rest of her life, Hobby continued to hold a number of positions in publishing and public service. Her other activities included sitting on the board of Rice University and serving on the National Advisory Commission on Selective Service at the request of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Hobby died on August 16, 1995. During and after her lifetime she received numerable awards. Although she never completed a university degree, she was recognized by a number of higher education institutions for her great contributions to the nation. Hobby was given honorary degrees by universities including Columbia University, Smith College, and the University of Pennsylvania. In 1967, Central Texas College dedicated the Oveta Culp Hobby Memorial Library. Hobby was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 1984. The US Post Office honored Hobby’s achievements in 2011 with a commemorative stamp.

Legislation creating the Women’s Army Corps becomes law - May 15, 1942 - HISTORY.com

TSgt Joe C.

On this day in 1942, a bill establishing a women’s corps in the U.S. Army becomes law, creating the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAACs) and granting women official military status.

In May 1941, Representative Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts, the first congresswoman ever from New England, introduced legislation that would enable women to serve in the Army in noncombat positions. Rogers was well suited for such a task during her husband John J. Rogers’ term as congressman, Rogers was active as a volunteer for the Red Cross, the Women’s Overseas League, and military hospitals. Because of her work inspecting field and base hospitals, President Warren G. Harding, in 1922, appointed her as his personal representative for inspections and visits to veterans’ hospitals throughout the country. She was eventually appointed to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, as chairwoman in the 80th and 83rd Congresses.

The bill to create a Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps would not be passed into law for a year after it was introduced (the bombing of Pearl Harbor was a great incentive). But finally, the WAACs gained official status and salary—but still not all the benefits accorded to men. Thousands of women enlisted in light of this new legislation, and in July 1942, the “auxiliary” was dropped from the name, and the Women’s Army Corps, or WACs, received full Army benefits in keeping with their male counterparts.

The WACs performed a wide variety of jobs, “releasing a man for combat,” as the Army, sensitive to public misgivings about women in the military, touted. But those jobs ranged from clerk to radio operator, electrician to air-traffic controller. Women served in virtually every theater of engagement, from North Africa to Asia.

It would take until 1978 before the Army would become sexually integrated, and women participating as merely an “auxiliary arm” in the military would be history. And it would not be until 1980 that 16,000 women who had joined the earlier WAACs would receive veterans’ benefits.

Women On the Frontlines of WWI Came to Operate Telephones

Several weeks before President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany, the United States became the world’s first modern nation to enlist women in its armed forces. It was a measure of how desperate the country was for soldiers and personnel to assist with operations stateside, and American women seized the opportunity to prove their patriotism.

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Initially, they worked as clerks and journalists. But by late 1917, General John Pershing declared he needed women on the frontlines for an even more crucial role: to operate the switchboards that linked up telephones across the front. The women would work for the Signal Corps, and came to be known as the “Hello Girls.”

These intrepid women are the subject of Elizabeth Cobbs’ new book, The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers. “Telephones were the only military technology in which the United States enjoyed clear superiority,” Cobbs writes, and women were by far the best operators. At the start of the 20th century, 80 percent of all telephone operators were women, and they could generally connect five calls in the time it took a man to do one.

The Hello Girls: America's First Women Soldiers

This is the story of how America's first women soldiers helped win World War I, earned the vote, and fought the U.S. Army. In 1918, the U.S. Army Signal Corps sent 223 women to France. They were masters of the latest technology: the telephone switchboard. General John Pershing, commander o.

When the United States declared war, the Signal Corps had only 11 officers and 10 men in its Washington office, and an additional 1,570 enlisted men around the country. The Army needed more operators, bilingual ones especially, and it needed them quickly. Fortunately, women were quick to respond. In the first week of December 1918, before the War Department even had the chance to print out applications, they received 7,600 letters from women enquiring about the first 100 positions in the Signal Corps. Eventually 223 American women were sent across the ocean to work at Army switchboards across Europe.

To learn more about these women and the role of telephones in the war, Smithsonian.com talked to Cobbs about her research.

What brought you to this subject?

I was searching for a topic for a new book a couple years go, thinking about [the WWI] centennial, and we probably didn’t need another thing about Woodrow Wilson, though someone will write it. In the context of all that, I can’t remember how I tripped across these women, but it struck me there was an important story here. [Women in the military] is one of those problems that seems very new, and yet it’s something women were experiencing 100 years ago.

The women of the Signal Corps prepare to depart for the war. (Courtesy of Robert, Grace and Carolyn Timbie)

How did you find information about the women featured in your book?

There wasn’t much. When I talk with some people they say, ‘How can you write this story? These are obscure people.’ I was aware that Mark Hough, a young man in his 20s in the 1970s, became a champion for the women. I went to the Seattle Bar Association, contacted them, asked can you get me in touch with him? They had an old email, tried a few times and didn’t hear back, and after a couple months I heard back. He said, ‘Oh yeah, this is me. I’ve been in Bosnia and Iraq for eight years, and I have three boxes of materials from the Hello Girls. I worked with them for several years to get [them recognized by Congress].’

He had a box that was memorabilia the women shared with him. They didn’t want to see it lost forever. One of the first things he showed me was a charm-bracelet-size pair of binoculars. He said, ‘Take a peek, you can see in them.’ I put this penny-sized pair of binoculars on, and I took a peek. I see a glimmer and I think it’s his shelves, the room. But then I’m looking through them and on the other side are these perfectly crisp pictures of naked women! French pornography of the 1910s, it was very tasteful. These were the things the women brought back from WWI, which also gives you a peek into their own mindset, their sense of humor, their willingness to laugh at their circumstances and themselves.

What role did the telephone play in getting women to the front?

The way this worked in WWI was the telephone was the key instrument in the war. Telegraphs operated on Morse code and it was a slower process. As a general, you couldn’t talk to somebody directly. The radios were similar. To get a radio field unit required three mules to carry it. The other problem with radios was that there wasn’t any measure for disguising the transmission so they weren’t secure forms yet. The signal could be plucked out of the air and you could trace where it came from. Telephones were secure and immediate they were the primary way men communicated. In WWI, telephones then were called candlestick phones. You lifted up the speaker tube and you would tell them who you wanted to talk to, and then every call had to be connected manually.

Women were really the best doing this job. General Pershing insisted when he got over, they needed bilingual women [to operate the switch boards]. The way telephones worked with long distance was an operator talked to another operator, who talked to another, and the call was relayed across the multiple lines. The U.S. ultimately ran an entirely new telephone system all throughout France that would allow operators to talk with English-speaking operators. But when they first got there they were interacting with French lines and French women. These were generals and operators who had to communicate across lines with their counterpart in other cultures. An American officer might not speak French, and a French officer might not speak English, so the women also acted as simultaneous translation. They were not only constantly fielding simultaneous calls, they were translating, too. It was this extremely high-paced operation that involved a variety of tasks. They were sweeping the boards, translating, even doing things like giving the time. Artillery kept calling them and saying, can I have the time operator? The women were really critical.

And the women who were working for the Signal Corps, a number at the end of their shifts would go to the evacuation hospitals, they’d talk to the men and keep up their spirits. One night Bertha Hunt [a member of the Signal Corps] was on the lines and wrote about just talking to men on the front lines. They would call just to hear a woman’s voice.

Raymonde and Louise Breton in the Signal Corps barracks at Neufchateau (Courtesy of National Archives)

Was sexism a major issue the women had to deal with on the front?

I think sexism falls away fastest under fire because people realize they just have to rely on each other. Yes, the women encountered sexism, and there were some men who were grumpy, who said, ‘What are you doing here?’ But as soon as the women started to perform, they found the men were very grateful and very willing to let them do their job, because their job was so critical. It created this enormous camaraderie and mutual respect.

At the same time as women were going to war, the suffrage movement was coming to a head in the U.S. How did these two things go together?

Worldwide, the war was the thing that enabled women in multiple countries to get the vote. In the U.S., they’d been fighting for 60 years and it went nowhere. Curiously, it’s women elsewhere who get the vote first󈟤 other countries, even though the demand was first made in the U.S.

The women’s suffrage movement brings the topic to fruition, but it’s women’s wartime service that converts people. For Wilson, it’s also the knowledge that the U.S. is way behind the implementation of liberal democracy. Women’s suffrage becomes intertwined in his foreign policy. How can we claim to be the leaders of the free world when we’re not doing what everybody else is doing? Are we going to be last to learn this lesson?

If you’re a full citizen, you defend the republic. One of the longtime arguments [against suffrage] had been women don’t have to pay the consequences. The vote should be given to people who are willing to give their lives if necessary. With the war, the women could say, ‘How can you deny us the vote if we’re willing to lay down our lives?’

Grace Banker was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for her work in the Signal Corps. (Courtesy of Robert, Grace and Carolyn Timbie)

You follow the journeys of several women in the book. Are there any that you felt an especially close connection to?

My two heroines are Grace Banker and Merle Egan. You identify with them all, but with Grace, I love the fact that here’s this 25-year-old woman who one day, doesn’t know if she’ll even be inducted and five days later is told she’s going to head this unit—the first women’s unit in America to serve in this particular capacity, the first official group of women’s soldiers. Everybody all over the U.S. was talking about them doing this unusual thing, and she writes in her diary, ‘I suddenly realize this duty settling on my shoulders.’ I found her desire to rise to the occasion very moving.

She was also a naughty girl, because you’re not supposed to keep a diary—it’s against the rules. I said to myself, I wonder why she would do this? I wonder if maybe she liked history? So I went to Barnard and said, ‘Can you tell me what Grace Banker’s major was?’ They said she was a double major, history and French. She had an eye to history, and I love that about her. Grace is just this firecracker. At one point, she’s talking in her diary about this person who came in who’s such a bore, and she went out the back window.

With Merle Egan, I found it so poignant that throughout the decades, this lonely fight [for recognition], she keeps it up. For her the meaning of old age wasn’t to slow down, but to hurry up. Her files and her letters and her campaign intensified when she was in her 80s. She knew she didn’t have much time left. By this time the second wave of feminism had come up. She hops on the second wave, and it’s really a story also about men and women working together. Mark Hough and General Pershing were men who saw that women were people too and wanted to recognize women’s service and give women the opportunity to serve and fully live out the meaning of citizenship.

Merle’s story is really interesting. She comes back to the U.S. after being the switchboard operator at the Versailles peace conference, and she’s denied any recognition of her service. What was that like for them?

At 91, Merle got her victory medal and said, ‘I deserve this as much for fighting the U.S. Army for 60 years as for heading up the switchboard for the Versailles conference.’ The women were not given discharges at the same time because somebody had to stay behind and run communications. Men who went home for the armistice were followed six months or even a year later by the women, because they weren’t discharged until the army was done with them. They got home and—here’s the totally bizarre thing that tells you the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing in government—the Navy and Marines formally inducted 11,000 women to serve in roles at home, clerks, telephone operators and journalists. But the Army took in a much smaller group of people, only 300 women altogether, and they hated the idea of inducting anybody.

The women found, if they were in the Army, despite everything they understood, when they got home the Army said you weren’t in the Army. You never took an oath. And there were multiple oaths in the files for them. One of them, their leader Grace Banker, won the Distinguished Service Medal awarded by Pershing, which was the top medal for officer at that time. Despite all that, they were told, ‘You weren’t actually in the Army.’ And of course it was heartbreaking for these women. A majority did what soldiers do, they buttoned it up and moved on with their lives, but a group said this isn’t right. Especially Merle Egan. There were women who died, two who lost their lives in influenza, and several were disabled. One woman’s arm was permanently disabled because somebody had treated it improperly and she ended up with permanent nerve damage. Another had tuberculosis. The Army, unlike the Marines and Navy, which provided medical benefits, said, that’s not our problem.

Elizabeth Cobbs, author of The Hello Girls: America's First Women Soldiers (Harvard University Press)

We’re still having these arguments today, about women’s role in combat. Do you think things have improved since WWI?

I think there has been a lot of change and there remains a lot of resistance. The WWI women got on the same piece of legislation as the WWII women in the Army, who were also denied full status as military personnel. One of their jobs was to tow targets for other soldiers to shoot at. Women in that group [the Women Airforce Service Pilots] were being denied burial rights at Arlington [until 2016] because they weren’t real soldiers. Despite the legislation headed by Barry Goldwater that overturned the original ruling, the Army was coming back again and saying, we don’t have to obey that.

Remembering and forgetting that women are real people, full citizens, is something that it seems we encounter in every generation. People have to be reminded, the fight has to be taken up again, but at a different point. There has been real progress, but you can’t take it for granted.

Editor's Note, April 5, 2017: The article previously misstated that General John Pershing needed women on the frontlines at the end of 1918. 

How Federal Laws Are Made

Congress is the legislative branch of the federal government and makes laws for the nation. Congress has two legislative bodies or chambers: the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. Anyone elected to either body can propose a new law. A bill is a proposal for a new law.

Steps in Making a Law

A bill can be introduced in either chamber of Congress by a senator or representative who sponsors it.

Once a bill is introduced, it is assigned to a committee whose members will research, discuss, and make changes to the bill.

The bill is then put before that chamber to be voted on.

If the bill passes one body of Congress, it goes to the other body to go through a similar process of research, discussion, changes, and voting.

Once both bodies vote to accept a bill, they must work out any differences between the two versions. Then both chambers vote on the same exact bill and, if it passes, they present it to the president.

The president then considers the bill. The president can approve the bill and sign it into law or not approve (veto) a bill.

If the president chooses to veto a bill, in most cases Congress can vote to override that veto and the bill becomes a law. But, if the president pocket vetoes a bill after Congress has adjourned, the veto cannot be overridden.

Differences Between the House and Senate Procedures

The Senate and the House have some procedural differences between them. Learn more about each body&rsquos process:

Legislation creating the Women’s Army Corps becomes law - HISTORY

Major refugee admissions occurred outside the national origins quota system during the 1950s. The Refugee Relief Act (RRA) of August 7, 1953, and the amendments of August 1954, authorized the admission of 214,000 refugees from war-torn Europe and escapees from Communist-occupied countries. Thirty percent of the admissions during the life of the Act were Italians, followed by Germans, Yugoslavs, and Greeks.

The RRA originated as an Administration bill, and combined humanitarian concern for the refugees and escapees with international political considerations. Quoting from President Eisenhower's letter which accompanied the draft legislation:

"These refugees, escapees, and distressed peoples now constitute an economic and political threat of constantly growing magnitude. They look to traditional American humanitarian concern for the oppressed. International political considerations are also factors which are involved. We should take reasonable steps to help these people to the extent that we share the obligation of the free world."

In particular, the inclusion of the category of escapees from communist domination in this and subsequent refugee legislation reflected the preoccupations of this Cold War period. This concern was also a major factor in the admission of refugees from the unsuccessful Hungarian revolution of October 1956. A total of 38,000 Hungarian refugees were eventually admitted to the United States, 6,130 with RRA visas and the remainder under the parole provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The Act of September 11, 1957, sometimes referred to as the Refugee-Escapee Act, provided for the admission of certain aliens who were eligible under the terms of the Refugee Relief Act, as well as refugee-escapees, defined as persons fleeing persecution in Communist countries or countries in the Middle East. This was the basis for the definition of refugee incorporated in the INA from 1965 until 1980. A total of 29,000 entered under the temporary 1957 refugee provisions, led by Hungarians, Koreans, Yugoslavs, and Chinese.

During the 1960s, refugees from persecution in communist-dominated countries in the Eastern Hemisphere and from countries in the Middle East continued to be admitted, first under the Fair Share Law, enacted July 14, 1960, and subsequently under the INA. About 19,700 refugees entered under the 1960 legislation. Its primary purpose was to enable the United States to participate in an international effort to close the refugee camps which had been in operation in Europe since the end of World War II. U.S. participation was limited to one-fourth of the total number resettled.

Cuban refugees began entering the United States with the fall of the Batista government and the subsequent communist takeover in 1959, and continued throughout the 1960s and, in smaller numbers, during the 1970s. Approximately 700,000 Cuban refugees had entered the United States prior to a new influx which began in April 1980. The United States has accepted the Cubans as refugees from communism through a variety of legal means.

The INA Amendments of 1965 and their Aftermath

The October 1965 amendments to the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) repealed the national origins quota system and represented the most far-reaching revision of immigration policy in the United States since the First Quota Act of 1921. In place of nationality and ethnic considerations, the INA amendments (P.L. 89 236 79 Stat. 911) substituted a system based primarily on reunification of families and needed skills.

The circumstances which led to this major shift in policy in 1965 were a complex combination of changing public perceptions and values, politics, and legislative compromise. It can be argued that the 1965 immigration legislation was as much a product of the mid-1960s and the heavily Democratic 89th Congress which also produced major civil rights legislation, as the 1952 Act had been a product of the Cold War period of the early 1950s.

The 1965 amendments adopted an annual ceiling on Eastern Hemisphere immigration of 170,000 and a 20,000 per country limit. Within these restrictions, immigrant visas were distributed according to a seven-category preference system placing priority on family reunification, attracting needed skills, and refugees. The 1965 law also provided that effective July 1, 1968, Western Hemisphere immigration would be limited by an annual ceiling of 120,000 without per-country limits or a preference system.

The INA Amendments of 1976 (P.L. 94-571 90 Stat. 2703) extended to the Western Hemisphere the 20,000 per-country limit and a slightly modified version of the seven category preference system. Legislation enacted in 1978 (P.L. 95 412 92 Stat. 907) combined the separate ceilings into a single worldwide ceiling of 290,000 with a single preference system. The Refugee Act of 1980 (P.L. 96 212 94 Stat. 102) eliminated refugees as a category of the preference system, and set the worldwide ceiling at 270,000, exclusive of refugees.

Since 1965, the major source of immigration to the United States has shifted from Europe to Latin America and Asia, reversing the trend since the founding of the nation. According to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Europe accounted for 50 percent of U.S. immigration during the decade fiscal years 1955 to 1964, followed by North America at 35 percent, and Asia at eight percent. In fiscal year 1988, Asia was highest at 41 percent, followed by North America at 39 percent, and Europe at 10 percent. In order, the countries exceeding 20,000 immigrants in fiscal year 1988 were Mexico, the Philippines, Haiti, Korea, India, mainland China, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and Jamaica.

These figures reflect a shift in both accessibility and conditions in the sending countries. For example, Asian immigration, which was severely limited prior to the 1965 amendments, subsequently has been augmented by the large number of Indochinese refugees adjusting to immigrant status outside the numerical limits. On the other hand, Irish immigration fell from 6,307 in fiscal year 1964 to 1,839 in fiscal year 1986, with 734 entering under the preference system and the majority entering as the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. Ireland had been heavily favored under the national origins quota system.

In more recent years, the above trend has largely continued. According to Pew Hispanic: “The regions of origin for immigrant populations residing in the U.S. have dramatically shifted since the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act. In 1960, 84% of immigrants living in the U.S. were born in Europe or Canada, while only 6% were from Mexico, 3.8% from South and East Asia, 3.5% from the rest of Latin America and 2.7% from other areas. Immigrant origins now [as of 2016] differ drastically, with European and Canadian immigrants making up only a small share of the foreign-born population (13.2%) in 2016. South and East Asians (26.9%), Mexicans (26.5%) and other Latin Americans (24.5%) each make up about a quarter of the U.S. immigrant population, followed by 8.9% who were born in another region.”

The proponents of the 1965 INA repeatedly assured American society that the amendment was far from radical. For instance, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) claimed:

First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same (. ). Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset (. ). Contrary to the charges in some quarters, [the bill] will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and deprived nations of Africa and Asia (. ). In the final analysis, the ethnic pattern of immigration under the proposed measure is not expected to change as sharply as the critics seem to think.

In reality, every single assurance Kennedy offered has been proven wrong by subsequent events. As FAIR President Dan Stein pointed out on its fiftieth anniversary:

By any objective standards, the 1965 Immigration Act would have to be considered an abject failure, and it is incumbent upon today’s leaders to fix a law that has produced countless unintended consequences that threaten our nation’s future (…). The law has resulted in reckless population growth, growing dependence of the social welfare system, and overwhelmed the country’s capacity to assimilate immigrants and their children into the social, cultural and economic mainstream.

Immigration History: The 1970s to the Present

The 1970s through 1990s: Immigration Issues, Review, and Revision

The patterns of immigration and the policy considerations relating to it in the 1970s resembled in some respects those of the 1950s after the enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act. In both decades, the entry of aliens outside the provisions of the basic law--both illegally as undocumented aliens, and legally as refugees was increasingly the dominant pattern in immigration and the basis for the major issues confronting the Congress. Legislative response to the issue of refugees in 1980 and undocumented aliens in 1986 was followed in 1987 by a shift in congressional attention to legal immigration.

The 1981 report of the national Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy contributed to congressional review of immigration issues. The sixteen-member Commission was created by legislation enacted in 1978 to study and evaluate immigration and refugee laws, policies, and procedures. Its basic conclusion was that controlled immigration had been and continued to be in the national interest, and this underlay many of its recommendations. The Commission's recommendations were summed up by Chairman Theodore Hesburgh in his introduction:

"We recommend closing the back door to undocumented, illegal migration, opening the front door a little more to accommodate legal migration in the interests of this country, defining our immigration goals clearly and providing a structure to implement them effectively, and setting forth procedures which will lead to fair and efficient adjudication and administration of U.S. immigration laws."

Refugees and the Refugee Act of 1980

Between 1975 and 1980, refugees and refugee-related issues dominated congressional concern with immigration more than they had since the years following World War II. Beginning with the fall of Vietnam and Cambodia to the communists in April 1975, this five-year period saw the admission of more than 400,000 Indochinese refugees, the enactment of major amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act in the form of the Refugee Act of 1980, and the exodus from Mariel Harbor, Cuba, to southern Florida.

The 1980 refugee legislation was enacted in part in response to Congress’s increasing frustration with the difficulty of dealing with the ongoing large-scale Indochinese refugee flow under the existing ad hoc refugee admission and resettlement mechanisms. By the end of the 1970s, a consensus had been reached that a more coherent and equitable approach to refugee admission and resettlement was needed. The result was the amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act contained in the Refugee Act of 1980, enacted on March 17, 1980 (P.L. 96-212 94 Stat. 102).

The Refugee Act repealed the limitations which had previously favored refugees fleeing communism or from countries in the Middle East and redefined refugee to conform to the definition used in the United Nations Protocol and Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The term refugee is now defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act as a person who is unwilling or unable to return to his country of nationality or habitual residence because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The 1980 amendments made provision for both a regular flow and the emergency admission of refugees, following legislatively prescribed consultation with the Congress. In addition, the law authorized federal assistance for the resettlement of refugees.

Shortly after the enactment of the Refugee Act of 1980, large numbers of Cubans entered the United States through southern Florida, totaling an estimated 125,000, along with continuing smaller numbers of Haitians. The Carter Administration was unwilling to classify either group as refugee, and no action was taken on the special legislation sought by the Administration. Beginning in 1984, the Reagan Administration adjusted the majority of the Cubans to lawful permanent resident status under P.L. 89 732, 1966 legislation enacted in response to the Cuban refugee situation in the 1960s. However, the status of the Cuban/Haitian entrants was not resolved finally until enactment of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which included special legalization provisions.

Illegal Immigration and the IRCA of 1986

Immigration legislation focusing on illegal immigration was considered and passed by the 99th Congress, and enacted as the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 P.L. 99-603 (November 6, 1986 100 Stat. 3359), consists primarily of amendments of the basic 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), amended (8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.).

Reform of the law relating to the control of illegal immigration had been under consideration for 15 years, i.e., since the early 1970s. The 1986 legislation marked the culmination of bipartisan efforts both by Congress and the executive branch under four Presidents. As an indication of the growing magnitude of the problem, the annual apprehension of undocumented aliens by the Department of Justice's Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) increased from 505,949 in 1972, the first year legislation aimed at controlling illegal immigration received House action, to 1,767,400 in 1986. In 1987, after the adoption of IRCA, INS apprehensions dropped by a third to 1,190,488.

The prospect of employment in the United States is an economic magnet that draws aliens here illegally. The principal legislative remedy proposed in the past, and included in the new law, is employer sanctions, or penalties for employers who knowingly hire aliens unauthorized to work in the United States. In order to avoid a major law enforcement problem dealing with aliens who established roots here before the change in policy, a legalization program was established that provided legal status for otherwise eligible aliens who had been here illegally since prior to 1982. Second, the legislation sought to respond to the apparent heavy dependence of seasonal agriculture on illegal workers by creating a 7-year special agricultural worker program, and by streamlining the previously existing H-2 temporary worker program to expedite availability of alien workers and to provide statutory protections for U.S. and alien labor.

Overall, the 1986 amnesty was a failure because the number of illegal aliens in the United States has since quadrupled: from the approximately 3 million amnestied in 1986 to approximately 12.5 million in 2017.

Legal Immigration and the Immigration Act of 1990

After enactment of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which adopted a major change in deterrence against illegal immigration, congressional attention shifted to legal immigration, including the 1965-adopted system of numerical limits on permanent immigration. This was an issue for a number of reasons. Concern had arisen over the greater number of immigrants admitted on the basis of family reunification compared to the number of independent non-family immigrants, and over the limited number of visas available to certain countries under the preference system. There was also concern about the growing visa waiting lists (backlogs) under the existing preference system and about the admission of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens outside the numerical limits.

Major legislation addressing these concerns passed the Senate and was introduced in the House in the 100th Congress (1987 to 1988). However, only temporary legislation addressing limited concerns passed both, leaving further consideration of a full-scale revision of legal immigration to the 101st Congress.

The Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT90) was signed into law as P.L. 101-649 by President Bush on November 29, 1990. It constituted a major revision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which remained the basic immigration law. Its primary focus was the numerical limits and preference system regulating permanent legal immigration. Besides legal immigration, the eight-title Act dealt with many other aspects of immigration law ranging from nonimmigrants to criminal aliens to naturalization.

The legal immigration changes included an increase in total immigration under an overall flexible cap, an increase in annual employment-based immigration from 54,000 to 140,000, and a permanent provision for the admission of "diversity immigrants" from "underrepresented" countries. The new system provided for a permanent annual level of approximately 700,000 during fiscal years 1992 through 1994. Refugees were the only major group of aliens not included. The Act established a three-track preference system for family-sponsored, employment-based, and diversity immigrants. Additionally, the Act significantly amended the work-related nonimmigrant categories for temporary admission.

IMMACT90 (P.L. 101-649) addressed a series of other issues. It provided undocumented Salvadorans with temporary protected status for a limited period of time, and amended the Immigration and Nationality Act to authorize the Attorney General to grant temporary protected status to nationals of designated countries subject to armed conflict or natural disasters. It also authorized a temporary stay of deportation and work authorization for eligible immediate family members of the IRCA-legalized aliens, and made 55,000 additional visas available for them annually during fiscal years 1992 to 1994.

As a response to criticism of employer sanctions, IMMACT90 expanded the anti-discrimination provisions of the IRCA, and increased the penalties for unlawful discrimination. It significantly revised the political and ideological grounds for exclusion and deportation which had been controversial since their enactment in 1952.

Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (1996)


The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA), enacted in 1996, resulted from the process of deliberating on the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform established by President Clinton and the Congress to examine both legal and illegal immigration issues.

The Commission was chaired until her untimely death in 1996 by The Hon. Barbara C. Jordan who had served in the U.S. House of Representatives (D-TX) 1973-79, and was a professor at the Univ. of Texas-Austin 1979-96. The Commission's members included distinguished experts in immigration law and history and others with experience in national politics and business.

After a long and arduous effort to develop bipartisan legislation dealing with both reform of legal and illegal immigration, Congress narrowed its focus on illegal immigration provisions with a promise by many that they would return soon to the effort to reform legal immigration.

"Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: Those who should get in, get in those who should be kept out, are kept out and those who should not be here will be required to leave. For the system to be credible, people actually have to be deported at the end of the process."
(Barbara Jordan, February 24, 1995 Testimony to House Immigration Subcommittee)

The provisions of IIRAIRA were aimed at adopting stronger penalties against illegal immigration, streamlining the deportation (removal) process by curtailing the never-ending legal appeal process that was used by immigration lawyers to keep their clients in the United States until they found a sympathetic judge who would grand suspension of deportation (cancellation of removal). Other toughening provisions adopted in the same year aimed at curbing the ability of terrorists to use the immigration process to enter and operate in the United States and to restrict the use of public welfare benefits by new immigrants contrary to the intent of the immigration law.

"For our immigration policy to make sense, it is necessary to make distinctions between those who obey the law, and those who violate it."
(Barbara Jordan, address to United We Stand, America Conference, Dallas, TX, August 12, 1995)


Legislation to design or amend a bill requires identifying a concrete issue in a comprehensive way. [3] When engaging in legislation, drafters and policy-makers must take into consideration the best possible avenues to address problem areas. [4] Possible solutions within bill provisions might involve implementing sanctions, targeting indirect behaviors, authorizing agency action, etc. [5]

Legislation is usually proposed by a member of the legislature (e.g. a member of Congress or Parliament), or by the executive, whereupon it is debated by members of the legislature and is often amended before passage. Most large legislatures enact only a small fraction of the bills proposed in a given session. [6] Whether a given bill will be proposed is generally a matter of the legislative priorities of the government.

Legislation is regarded as one of the three main functions of government, which are often distinguished under the doctrine of the separation of powers. Those who have the formal power to create legislation are known as legislators a judicial branch of government will have the formal power to interpret legislation (see statutory interpretation) the executive branch of government can act only within the powers and limits set by the law, which is the instrument by which the fundamental powers of government are established. [7]

The function and procedures are primarily the responsibility of the legislature. However, there are situations where legislation is made by other bodies or means, such as when constitutional law or secondary legislation is enacted. Such other forms of law-making include referendums, orders in council or regulations. The term legislation is sometimes used to include these situations, or the term primary legislation may be used to exclude these other forms.

Public participation in legislation Edit

All modern constitutions and fundamental laws contain and declare the concept and principle of popular sovereignty, which essentially means that the people are the ultimate source of public power or government authority. The concept of popular sovereignty holds simply that in a society organized for political action, the will of the people as a whole is the only right standard of political action. It can be regarded as an important element in the system of checks and balances and representative democracy. Therefore, the people are implicitly entitled even to directly participate in the process of law-making. This role of linking citizens and their government and legislators is closely related to the concept of legitimacy. The exercise of democratic control over the legislative system and the policy-making process can occur even when the public has only an elementary understanding of the national legislative institution and its membership. Civic education is a vital strategy for strengthening public participation and confidence in the legislative process. [8]

The term "dead letter" refers to legislation that has not been revoked, but that has become inapplicable, obsolete, or is no longer enforced. [9]


WASP started out as two separate organizations. Pilot Jacqueline "Jackie" Cochran wrote to the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, in 1939 to suggest the idea of using women pilots in non-combat missions. [8] [9] Cochran was introduced by Roosevelt to General Henry H. Arnold, chief of the Army Air Force, and to General Robert Olds, who became the head of the Air Transport Command (ATC). [10] Arnold asked her to ferry a bomber to Great Britain in order to generate publicity for the idea of women piloting military aircraft. [8] Cochran did go to England, where she volunteered for the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) and recruited American women pilots to help fly planes in Europe. [11] Twenty-five women volunteered for the ATA with Cochran. [12] The American women who flew in the ATA were the first American women to fly military aircraft. [11] While in England, Cochran studied the organization of both the ATA and the Royal Air Force (RAF). [13]

In the summer of 1941, Cochran and test-pilot Nancy Harkness Love independently submitted proposals to the U.S. Army Air Forces to allow women pilots in non-combat missions after the outbreak of World War II in Europe. [14] The plan was to free male pilots for combat roles by using qualified female pilots to ferry aircraft from the factories to military bases, and also to tow drones and aerial targets. The U.S. was building its air power and military presence in anticipation of direct involvement in the conflict, and had belatedly begun to drastically expand its men in uniform. This period led to the dramatic increase in activity for the U.S. Army Air Forces, because of obvious gaps in "manpower" that could be filled by women. To compensate for the manpower demands of the military after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the government encouraged women to enter the workforce to fill both industrial and service jobs supporting the war effort. [15] [16]


Nancy Harkness Love's husband, Robert Love, was part of the Army Air Corps Reserve and worked for Colonel William H. Tunner. [16] When Robert Love mentioned that his wife was a pilot, Tunner became interested in whether she knew other women who were pilots. [17] Tunner and Nancy Love met and began to plan an aviation ferrying program involving women pilots. [17] More formally, on June 11, 1942, Colonel Tunner suggested putting women pilots into the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). [18] However, there were technical problems with this suggestion, so it was decided to pursue hiring civilian pilots for the ATC instead. [18] By June 18, Love had drafted a plan to send to General Harold L. George who sent the proposal onto General Henry H. Arnold. [18] Eleanor Roosevelt wrote about women working as pilots during the war in her September 1 "My Day" newspaper column, supporting the idea. [19] General George again broached the idea with General Arnold, who finally, on September 5, directed that "immediate action be taken and the recruiting of women pilots begin within twenty-four hours." [20] Nancy Harkness Love was to be the director of the group and she sent out 83 telegrams to prospective women pilots that same day. [20]

The Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) went into operation publicly on September 10, 1942. [21] [22] Soon, the Air Transport Command began using women to ferry planes from factory to airfields. Love started with 28 women pilots, but they grew in number during the war until there were several squadrons. [23] Requirements for recruits were that they had to be between ages 21 and 35, have a high school diploma, a commercial flying license, 200 horsepower engine rating, 500 hours of flight time and experience in flying across the country. [24]

Uniforms for the WAFS were designed by Love and consisted of a gray gabardine jacket with brass buttons and square shoulders. [25] The uniform could be worn with gored skirts or slacks also made of gabardine. [25] Because they had to pay for their own uniforms, only 40 women ever wore the WAFS uniform. [21] All WAFS were issued a flight uniform of khaki flight coveralls, a parachute, goggles, a flying scarf and leather flying jacket sporting the ATC patch. [26]

Headquarters for WAFS was established at the new (May 1943) New Castle Army Air Base (the former Wilmington Airport). [21] Tunner ensured that there were quarters for the women to live in at the base. [27]

WAFS worked under a 90 day, renewable contract. [28] WAFS earned $250 a month and had to provide and pay for their own room and board. [29]

The first group of WAFS recruits were known as the Originals. [30] Betty Gillies was the first woman to show up for training. [30] On October 6, Gillies was made an executive officer and second-in-command of the WAFS. [31] Gillies was familiar with drill and command techniques which she had learned at finishing school. [13] The first WAFS assignment was run by Gillies on October 22, 1942. [32] Six WAFS would ferry six L-4B Cubs from the factory to Mitchel Field. [32] The original squadron of 28 was reduced to 27 when Pat Rhonie left on December 31 after disagreeing with Colonel Baker. [33]

The WAFS each had an average of about 1,400 flying hours and a commercial pilot rating. They received 30 days of orientation to learn Army paperwork and to fly by military regulations. Afterward, they were assigned to various ferrying commands. [34] At the beginning of 1943, three new squadrons were formed. [35] The 4th Ferrying Group was in Romulus and commanded by Del Scharr. [35] The 5th Ferrying Group was stationed at Love Field and was under the command of Florene Miller. [35] The 6th Ferrying Group was stationed at Long Beach and commanded by Barbara Jane Erickson. [35]


Cochran returned from England and arrived in the US the day before the announcement of the WAFS. [36] Cochran was angry that Love's proposal had been accepted, while her own had seemingly been ignored. [13] The next day, Cochran flew to Washington, D.C. and confronted General Arnold about her earlier proposal. [37] The WAFS had been formed while General Arnold was out on prolonged medical leave. [13] On September 13, Arnold sent a memo to General George E. Stratemeyer that designated Cochran as the director of "Women's Flying Training." [38] On September 15, 1942, Cochran's training proposal was also adopted, forming the 319th Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD). [39] WFTD would be working with the Flight Training Command (FTC). [40] WFTD was conceived of a program to train more women to ferry aircraft. [41] On October 7, General Arnold proposed the goal of training 500 women pilots. [42] By November 3, General Arnold was proposing a "maximum effort to train women pilots." [42]

The Aviation Enterprises at Howard Hughes Field at the Houston Municipal Airport became the base of the WFTD. [43] The first trainees recruited for WFTD, class 43-1, started at Houston Municipal Airport on November 16, 1942. [44] Cochran made Dedie Deaton her staff executive and in charge of finding housing for class 43-1- also known as the "Guinea Pigs". [45] [46] Women trained on old planes, many of which bore "visible and invisible scars". [47]

WFTD pilots were issued large khaki coveralls (which the trainees called "zoot suits"), were ordered to wear any shoes they had, and a hairnet on the flight line. [48] The WFTD women were housed in various locations and had to find their own transportation to training. [49] The first deaths occurred when Margaret Oldenburg and her instructor were practicing spins on March 7, 1943. [50] Oldenburg had put her plane, a PT-19 open cockpit, into a spin that she could not recover from and the crash killed her and her instructor. [50] Because the WFTD were civilians, there was no money to cover the funeral costs. [50] Cochran paid for the expense out of her own pocket and Deaton escorted Oldenburg's body home. [50] Another crash took place on March 21, 1943, when Cornelia Fort, a former flight instructor who had been the first to encounter Japanese aircraft at Pearl Harbor, was ferrying a BT-13 with a group of male pilots. [51] One of the pilots, while showing off, flew too close to Fort's plane and his landing gear collided with the wing of her plane, breaking part of it off. [52] The plane went into a nose-dive, killing her. [53]

Cochran pushed aggressively for a single entity to control the activity of all women pilots. Tunner, in particular, objected on the basis of differing qualification standards, and the absolute necessity of the ATC being able to control its own pilots. But Cochran's preeminence with Arnold prevailed, and in July 1943 he ordered the programs merged, with Cochran as director. [11] The WAFS and the WFTD were combined to form the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). [54] Love continued with the program as executive in charge of WASP ferrying operations. The formal announcement combining WAFS and WFTD took place on August 20, 1943. [55]

WASP adopted a patch in 1943 that featured the female gremlin Fifinella. [1] Fifinella was conceived by Roald Dahl and drawn by Walt Disney, and became the official WASP mascot. [1]

WASP adopted many of WAFS requirements, but added one other. Recruits still had to be between 21 and 35 years old, in good health, in possession of a pilot's license and 35 hours of flight time. [56] [57] Additionally, women were also required to be at least five feet and two inches tall. [58] Over 25,000 women made application to join the WASP 1,830 were accepted but only 1,074 completed the training. [59] The applicants all had prior experience and airman certificates. Several WASPs had been trained previously in the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP). [60] [61] [62] Many of the women came from wealthy backgrounds that had afforded pilot training earlier in life, or had husbands who helped pay for their expensive training. [63] All WASP recruits were interested in serving their country. [63]

Although the majority of WASPs pilots were white, they were not exclusively so. Two Chinese Americans, Hazel Ying Lee and Maggie Gee, two women of Hispanic descent, Verneda Rodriguez and Frances Dias, [64] [65] [66] [67] and one known Native American woman, Ola Mildred Rexroat completed the training. Rexroat was a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. [68] While the total number of black women applicants for WASP training is unknown, several African American pilots made it to the final interview stage, where they were all rejected. [69] Mildred Hemmans Carter, another African American applicant, was asked to withdraw her application because of her race. In 1940, at age 19, Carter had earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Tuskegee Institute. The following year, she received her aviation certification. However, because of her sex, Carter was also rejected from flying with the Tuskegee Airmen. Seventy years later, she was recognized retroactively as a WASP, and Carter took her final flight at age 90. [70] Another African American applicant, Janet Harmon Bragg, was told by Cochran in her interview that "it was difficult enough fighting prejudice aimed at females without additionally battling race discrimination." [71]

The WASP training spanned 18 groups of women. The first group was the Originals, who were the first group of the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), led by Nancy Love. [30]

The second group was The Guinea Pigs which were Jacqueline Cochran's first class of women pilots for the Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD). [46] The Guinea Pigs started training at the Houston Municipal Airport (now William P. Hobby Airport) on November 16, 1942, as part of the 319th Army Air Force Women's Flying Training Detachment (AAFWFTD). This was just after the WAFS had started their orientation in Wilmington, Delaware. Unlike the WAFS, the women that reported to Houston did not have uniforms and had to find their own lodging. [72] The "Woofteddies" (WFTD) also had minimal medical care, no life insurance, crash truck, or fire truck, and the ambulance was loaned from the Ellington Army Airfield, along with insufficient administrative staff, and a hodgepodge of aircraft—23 types—for training. [73] As late as January 1943, when the third class was about to start their training, the three classes were described by Byrd Granger in On Final Approach, as "a raggle-taggle crowd in a rainbow of rumpled clothing", while they gathered for morning and evening colors. [74] There was also a lack of equipment, such as a Link trainer, that was necessary for training. [39]

The first Houston class started with 38 women with a minimum of 200 hours. Twenty-three graduated on April 24, 1943, at the only Houston WASP graduation at Ellington Army Air Field. The second Houston class, started in December 1942 with a minimum of 100 hours, but finished their training just in time to move to Sweetwater, Texas and become the first graduating class from Avenger Field on May 28, 1943. The third class completed their advanced training at Avenger Field and graduated July 3, 1943. Half of the fourth class of 76 women started their primary training in Houston on February 15, 1943, and then transferred to Sweetwater. Later in the summer of 1943, both the WAFS and WFTD were combined into the WASP. [75] The first group to train as WASP started in Sweetwater in September 1943 and were designated as Class 44-W-2. [76]

Each WASP had a pilot's license, but was retrained to fly the Army way by the U.S. Army Air Forces at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. [77] More than 25,000 women applied for the WASP, but only 1,830 were accepted into the program. [59] [78] During the course of their training, it was reported that 552 women were released for lack of flying proficiency, 152 resigned, 27 were discharged for medical reasons, and 14 were dismissed for disciplinary reasons. [79] After completing four months of military flight training, 1,074 of them earned their wings and became the first women to fly American military aircraft. While the WASP were not trained for combat, their course of instruction was essentially the same as male aviation cadets. [80] They received no gunnery training and very little formation and aerobatic flying, but went through the maneuvers necessary to be able to recover from any position. [81] The percentage of those eliminated compared favorably with the elimination rate for male cadets' in the Central Flying Training Command.

WASP recruits were required to complete the same primary, basic, and advanced training courses as male Army Air Corps pilots and many of them went on to specialized flight training. [7] They spent around 12 hours a day at the airfield with half the day spent practicing actual flight and the other half studying. [77] By graduation, WASP recruits had 560 hours of ground school and 210 hours of flight training. [77] They knew Morse code, meteorology, military law, physics, aircraft mechanics, navigation and other subjects. [77]

After their training, the WASP were stationed at 122 air bases across the U.S., [82] where they assumed numerous flight-related missions, and relieved male pilots for combat duty. [83] Ferrying planes from factory to airbases made up the first duties of the WASP. [84] During World War II, women pilots flew 80 percent of all ferrying missions. [85] They delivered over 12,000 aircraft. [59] WASP freed around 900 male pilots for combat duty during World War II. [29]

The original WAFS were organized specifically to ferry airplanes and free male pilots for combat roles. [86] When a ferrying mission came in, the WASP would go to the factory, fly the plane in a test flight and then deliver the plane. [85] Between September 1942 and December 1944, the WASP delivered 12,652 aircraft [87] of 78 different types. In order to set an example, Nancy Love who was in charge of training, made sure she was trained and qualified on as many different types of planes as was possible. [88]

They also towed targets for live anti-aircraft artillery practice, simulated strafing missions, and transported cargo. The live-target practice was announced by Jackie Cochran on July 19, 1943, to 25 recent WASP graduates at Avenger Field. [53] Cochran told the group that she had a "top secret assignment" and that any WASP could opt out if they wished: none did. [53] This group would be sent to Camp Davis to tow flying shooting targets for men on the ground to practice shooting airborne targets. [53] Many of the planes were shot during this training and several WASP were shot in the feet. [89] Sometimes the planes were shot on purpose, when service men mistakenly believed they were supposed to shoot the plane, not the target the WASP was towing. [90] One of the planes used during target towing, an A-24 that, like many had not been adequately maintained by the Army Air Corps (AAC), killed WASP Mabel Virginia Rawlinson. [91] Rawlinson was practicing night flying with a trainer when her A-24 began to experience technical issues. [91] The instructor asked her to return to the airfield, but on the final approach, Rawlinson's plane connected with the top of a pine tree and the plane nosed down and crashed. [91] The instructor was thrown free, but Rawlinson was stuck in the front seat as the plane went up in flames, unable to open the plane's broken canopy lock. [91] The investigation into the crash and her death found that the towing planes were not maintained properly and the AAC was using the wrong octane fuel for the planes. [91]

The women flew almost every type of aircraft flown by the USAAF during World War II. [92] In addition, a few exceptionally qualified women were allowed to test rocket-propelled planes, to pilot jet-propelled planes, and to work with radar-controlled targets. When men were less willing to fly certain difficult planes, such as the YP-59 and B-29 Super Fortress, General Arnold recruited two WASPs to fly these aircraft. [93] Arnold believed that if men saw women fly these planes successfully, they would be "embarrassed" into taking these missions willingly. [94] Two WASPs, Dorthea Johnson and Dora Dougherty Strother, were chosen to fly the B-29. [93] They flew to Alamogordo in the B-29s where there was a crowd waiting to see them land. [93] General Arnold's plan worked, "From that day on, there was no more grumbling from male pilots assigned to train on and fly the B-29 Super Fortress." [93] Women would also test-fly the planes that had been repaired. [85]

When not flying, the pilots studied navigation, radio communications and new flying skills. [85]

Thirty-eight members lost their lives in accidents, eleven died during training, and twenty-seven were killed on active duty missions. [59] Because they were not considered part of the military by the guidelines, a fallen WASP was sent home at family expense. [95] Traditional military honors or note of heroism, such as allowing the U.S. flag to be placed on the coffin or displaying a service flag in a window, were not allowed. [96] [97] [95]

The WASP members were U.S. federal civil service employees, and did not qualify for military benefits. [11] Each member paid for her own transportation costs to training sites, for her dress uniforms and room and board. [59] Although attached to the U.S. Army Air Forces, the members could resign at any time after completion of their training. On September 30, 1943, the first of the WASP militarization bills was introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Representative John Costello. [63] Both Cochran and Arnold desired a separate corps headed by a woman colonel (similar to the WAC, WAVES, SPARS, and the Marine Corps Women's Reserve heads). [98] The War Department, however, consistently opposed the move, because there was no separate corps for male pilots as distinguished from unrated AAF officers. [98] In January 1944, Costello introduced a bill, HR 4219, to authorize women's commissions in the Army Air Forces. [99] General Arnold felt that there was room for women and men to work as pilots in the Army Air Forces. [99] He testified in front of the House military committee that the WASP were all "good fliers and that he plans to send all the male pilots to fight." [100]

However, some in the media disagreed with General Arnold and began to write opinion pieces in some of the most important media of the day. [94] TIME, The New York Daily News and the Washington Post all urged women to step down and give the jobs back to men. [94] A journalist, Drew Pearson, questioned the legality of funding the WASP program, and even accused General Arnold of being manipulated by Jackie Cochran's "feminine wiles" in a Washington Times Herald column. [94] The column caused male civilian pilots to increase their efforts to write letters against the program. [94]

On June 21, 1944, the U.S. House bill to provide the WASP with military status, HR 4219, was narrowly defeated 188 against to 169 for. [101] The civilian male pilots lobbied against the bill: reacting to closure of some civilian flight training schools, and the termination of two male pilot training commissioning programs. [102] The House Committee on the Civil Service (Ramspeck Committee) reported on June 5, 1944, that it considered the WASP unnecessary, unjustifiably expensive, and recommended that the recruiting and training of inexperienced women pilots be halted. [102] The committee had found that the program had cost $50 million in government funds. [101] Because of the cost, the program needed to request funding through legislation. [101]

Cochran had been pushing for a resolution of the question: in effect, delivering an ultimatum to either commission the women or disband the program. [101] The AAF had developed an excess of pilots and pilot candidates. As a result, Arnold (who had been a proponent of militarization) ordered that the WASP be disbanded by December 20, 1944. [11] Arnold is quoted from a speech he delivered at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas on December 7, 1944: [103]

The WASP has completed its mission. Their job has been successful. But as is usual in war, the cost has been heavy. Thirty-eight WASP have died while helping their country move toward the moment of final victory. The Air Forces will long remember their service and their final sacrifice.

On December 7, 1944, the final class of WASP pilots, 71 women in total, graduated from their training regardless of the plan to disband the WASP program within the following two weeks. [104] Following the announcement approximately 20 WASP members offered to continue ferrying aircraft for the compensation of US$1.00 (equivalent to $14.7 in 2020) a year apiece but this offer was rejected. [105] Before the WASP were disbanded, General Arnold ordered all commanding officers at bases where WASPs served, that the "women pilots be issued a certificate similar to an honorable discharge." [106]

Following the group's disbandment some WASP members were allowed to fly on board government aircraft from their former bases to the vicinity of their homes as long as room was available and no additional expenses were incurred. Others had to arrange and pay for their own transportation home. [107] At the conclusion of the WASP program, 915 women pilots were on duty with the AAF: 620 assigned to the Training Command, 141 to the Air Transport Command, 133 to the numbered air forces in the continental United States, 11 to the Weather Wing, 9 to the technical commands and one to the Troop Carrier Command. [73] The WASP members ferried fifty percent of the combat aircraft during the war to 126 bases across the United States. [59] Because of the pioneering and the expertise they demonstrated in successfully flying military aircraft the WASP records showed that women pilots, when given the same training as men pilots, were as capable as men in non-combat flying. [108]

During November 1944 WASP members at Maxwell Air Field founded the Order of Fifinella organization. [109] The organization's initial goals were to help the former WASP members find employment and maintain contact between themselves. [109] Through the years the Order of Fifinella issued newsletters, helped influence legislation and organized reunions. [109] The group held its final meeting in 2008 and was disbanded in 2009. [109]

Many WASPs wanted to continue flying after they were disbanded. [110] Commercial airlines turned women pilots away, "saying public opinion wouldn't stand for it." [110] WASP Teresa James wrote to congress requesting veteran's status. [29] In order to keep flying, some women wrote Madame Chiang Kai-shek and volunteered for the Chinese Air Force, who were still fighting against Japan. [110] [3] The United States Air Force offered commissions to former WASP in 1949, though all 121 who accepted the commissions were given support and administrative duties and did not fly. [111]

The records of the WASP program, like nearly all wartime files, were classified and sealed for 35 years making their contributions to the war effort little known and inaccessible to historians. [97] However, there were unofficial historians, like WASP, Marty Wyall, who collected scrapbooks and newspaper clipping about what the WASP members had done and what they had gone on to do. [112] Wyall also suggested in 1964, at a Ninety-Nines convention, that the remaining WASP members should meet up with one another every other year. [112]

Early efforts to gain recognition for the WASP continued in the early 1970s. [29] There was support from the office of Senator Barry Goldwater, who had flown with WASP during WWII. [29] Goldwater's efforts to get the WASP veteran's status was met with shocking prejudice in Congress. [29] According to Goldwater's legislative assistant, Terry Emerson, "Women were treated as non-persons." [29] In the House, Representative Patsy Mink introduced a bill on May 17, 1972, to give the WASP veterans status. [113] Another representative in the House, Lindy Boggs, introduced a bill around 1977 to give the WASP military status. [114]

In 1975 under the leadership of Col. Bruce Arnold, the son of General Hap Arnold, along with the surviving WASP members organized as a group again and began what they called the "Battle of Congress". Their goal was to gain public support and have the WASP officially recognized as veterans of World War II. [115] In 1976, there was a bill in the Senate Veteran's Affairs Committee to give the WASPs military status. [110] The bill would allow WASP pilots to use veteran's services. [110] In 1977, WASP records were unsealed after an Air Force press release erroneously stated the Air Force was training the first women to fly military aircraft for the U.S. [97] [116] [59] [115] Documents were compiled that showed during their service WASP members were subject to military discipline, assigned top secret missions and many members were awarded service ribbons after their units were disbanded. [115] It was also shown that WASP member Helen Porter had been issued an Honorable Discharge certificate by her commanding officer following her service. [115] [106] This time, the WASPs lobbied Congress with the important support of Goldwater, who himself had been a World War II ferry pilot in the 27th Ferrying Squadron. [117] During hearings on the legislation opposition to the WASP members being given military recognition was voiced by the Veterans Administration (VA), the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). [118] The VA, led by Dorothy L. Starbuck, argued that WASP should not be given military recognition because the women were never subject to court martial. [114] The VFW felt that giving WASP military recognition would "destroy the special status of veterans and do irreparable damage to veterans benefits." [114]

President Jimmy Carter signed legislation, P.L.95–202, Section 401, The G.I. Bill Improvement Act of 1977, providing that service as a WASP would be considered "active duty" for the purposes of programs administered by the Veterans Administration. [119] Honorable Discharge certificates were issued to the former WASP members in 1979. [120] In 1984, each WASP was awarded the World War II Victory Medal. [59] Those who served for more than one year were also awarded American Theater Ribbon/American Campaign Medal for their service during the war. [59] Many of the medals were accepted by the recipients' sons and daughters on their behalf. [95]

The 1977 legislation, either despite or because of its language, did not expressly allow WASPs to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. That was because Arlington National Cemetery, unlike most other national cemeteries, is administered by the Department of the Army, not the Department of Veterans Affairs, and thus the Secretary of the Army determines eligibility for Arlington burial. [121] [97] The reason for the position taken by the Army on this issue may have been the rapidly diminishing space at Arlington. But in 2002, the Army re-considered and decided that deceased WASPs were able to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. In 2015, however, the Army re-interpreted the law and its own regulations against the backdrop of thirteen years of war, which once again threatened to deplete the cemetery of land. [122] The Army ruled that the 1977 statute did not mandate the burial of deceased WASPs at Arlington. When WASP, Elaine Harmon, died on April 21, 2015, her request to have her ashes interred at Arlington was denied. [123] Another WASP, Florence Shutsy-Reynolds, began a social media campaign to advocate for Harmon and other WASP members who wished to be interred at Arlington. [123] Legislation in 2016 seemingly overruled the Army's interpretation and it was widely reported that WASPs could "again" be buried at Arlington. [124] The 2016 law revived the long-held concern about limited space at the cemetery. [125] [126] Thus, the legislation in the 114th Congress (S.2437 by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) and H.R. 4336 by Rep. Martha McSally (R-Arizona), a retired Air Force fighter pilot), provides only for interment of cremated remains and not ground burial. [127]

In 2002 WASP member Deanie Bishop Parrish with her daughter began plans for a museum dedicated to telling the WASPs story. [129] The hangar building used for the museum, Hangar One, was originally built in 1929 and was part of the Sweetwater Municipal Airport facilities which became Avenger Field. [130] In 2005 the National WASP WWII Museums grand opening was planned for May 28, 2005, which was the 62 anniversary of the first WASP graduating class. [131] Along with the displays of uniforms, vehicles and other artifacts are several aircraft. These include a Boeing-Stearman Model 75 biplane, a Fairchild PT-19 trainer, a UC-78 Bamboo Bomber and a Vultee BT-13 Valiant trainer that was donated in September 2017. [132] [133]

On July 1, 2009, President Barack Obama and the United States Congress awarded the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal. [6] [128] Three of the roughly 300 surviving WASPs were on hand to witness the event. During the ceremony President Obama said, "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. 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." [135] On March 10, 2010, the 300 surviving WASPs came to the US Capitol to accept the Congressional Gold Medal from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Congressional leaders. [136] On New Year's Day in 2014 the Rose Parade featured a float with eight WASP members riding on it. [137] It was designed by sculptor Don Everhart II. [138] The medal is on display at the Boeing Aviation Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. [139]

Other aspects of the WASP legacy include the designs and symbols of the WASP organization. Shutsy-Reynolds took over WASP merchandising in 1988 and designed the scarf that many WASP members wore. [61] She also created unique jewelry based on the WASP wings symbols. [61]

The WASP actively inspired successive generations of women, including aviator, Jerrie Cobb, Desert Storm pilot, Kelly Hamilton, astronaut, Eileen Collins, and Terry London Rinehart, who was one of the first 10 women to be hired as a commercial airline pilot in 1976. [140] Colonel Kimberly Olsen "credited the WASP for her opportunity to serve her country." [140]

WASP members faced discrimination because of their sex during their work numerous times. Some male pilots and commanders were unhappy to have a women's presence in the traditionally male setting of the military. [141] One WASP, Lorraine Rodgers, later recalled that some men "refused to acknowledge their ability," or that the men didn't trust the smaller women to be able to handle the planes. [111] Some commanders would give out "undesirable" planes to the WASP to fly. [111] One commander at Love Field was eventually formally admonished for treating the women unfairly. [111] WASP Teresa James believed that the women pilots were disliked because they "flew longer than the men (service pilots). We flew our tails off." [110] However, James also reported that she was sometimes "treated like a celebrity" when she stopped at Army bases for refueling. [142] She said, "They had never seen a woman pilot in an Air Force airplane." [142]

Camp Davis at North Carolina had the most prejudice and discrimination against the WASP. [111] The base commander, Major Stephenson, told the women that "both they and the planes were expendable." [111] Women at Camp Davis were unfairly evaluated in their flying, according to WASP Alia Corbett. [111] Women were not given practice time, unlike the men. [111] Sabotage was suspected in some incidents at the camp and Cochran found traces of sugar in the engine at one WASP crash site. [111] Two WASP women died in the line of duty at Camp Davis. [111] There were fourteen accidents involving improperly maintained towing planes at Camp Davis and planes at Camp Davis were found to be using the wrong octane fuel. [91]

While the women were doing the same job as men who were also civilian ferry pilots, the WASP were paid at two-thirds the rate of their male counterparts. [111]

The initial force of the Women's Army Ferrying Service (WAFS) put the cap on the age of recruits at 35 in order "to avoid the irrationality of women when they enter and go through menopause." [143] At the time, the military had determined that age 40 was the time when menopause began, so if the war lasted more than 5 years, most recruits would just be entering the time of "debilitating irrationality." [143] The WASP were even grounded for a time during their menstrual cycles by male commanders because they believed they were "less efficient during menses." [71] This was stopped when flight records showed that this thinking was false. [71] Some WASP were allowed to choose not to fly during menstruation and the pilots' periods were seen as a form of medical disability by military doctors. [144]

On the military planes, there weren't facilities for the women to use the bathroom. [110] When women were ferrying the planes, they had to touch down occasionally and women were not allowed to eat in some restaurants because they were wearing pants. [3]

The 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule stated that, "Service members are eligible to be assigned to all positions for which they are qualified, except that women shall be excluded from assignment to units below the brigade level whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground." Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta rescinded this rule in 2015.

According to the Military Times, the policy change opened 220,000 new jobs to women in the armed forces: Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, Air Force parajumpers, tank drivers, and more.

In 2018, then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that "the jury is still out" on whether or not integrating women into the infantry has been a success because there are too few women to obtain comprehensive data. The Military Times reported that nearly 800 women were serving in infantry, cavalry and fire support in five divisions.

Watch the video: Ποια Είναι Η Μυστηριώδης Ομάδα Αίματος Που Έχει Το 15% Του Πλυθησμού; (July 2022).


  1. Faisal

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  4. Walter

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  5. Oswy

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