Essay On Elaine Harmon

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A member of America’s Greatest Generation, who answered our nation’s call during World War II, has been denied the honor of being laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. The ashes of Elaine Harmon, who contributed mightily to the war, currently occupy a closet in the home of her daughter. Terry Harmon says her mother’s ashes will remain in that closet until they are placed at Arlington, along with her fellow veterans.

A global conflict such as World War II required mobilization of our nation’s population on a scale previously unimaginable – and that included women. Women took jobs vacated by men serving in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps and kept the factory production lines flowing. By 1945 an estimated 2.2 million women worked in war industries. An additional 350,000 women, such as Elaine Harmon, served our nation in the the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service of the Navy (WAVES) and Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of the old Army Air Corps. Elaine Harmon served as a WASP pilot.

Formed in 1943 by the merging of the Women’s Flying Training Detachment
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According to Susan Stamberg in her NPR article “Female WWII Pilots: The Original Fly Girls,” WASP pilots such as Elaine Harmon, “flew almost every type of military aircraft” and “ferried new planes long distances from factories to military bases and departure points across the country.” WASP pilots also “towed targets to give ground and air gunners training shooting — with live ammunition.” Thirty-eight WASP pilots were killed in flying accidents. Because WASP was founded as a paramilitary organization, the Army refused to allow its deceased fliers to be buried with military honors. No American flag draped the coffin of a fallen WASP pilot. Ironically, the WASP fliers’ death rate of 3.5% was greater than that of all other military services, except the Marines

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