Women in Aviation International (WAI) members and friends will honor the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) by visiting their graves and leaving an appropriate decoration in the form of flowers or other remembrances. In its fourth year, the #HonorTheWASP program was originally envisioned to take place over the Memorial Day weekend each year. In an effort to allow participants to observe best social-distancing practices, WAI encourages participants to visit gravesites over the entire month of May as opposed to just on Monday, May 31st, Memorial Day.
“WAI members around the world are grateful for the service and sacrifice of the formidable group of WASP who served so honorably during World War II. This group of impressive ladies were brave and dedicated and it is our honor, as a group, to pay tribute to their bravery and dedication,” says WAI CEO Allison McKay. “While many adult Americans have been vaccinated against COVID-19, we hope that our members and visitors remember to stay safe during their commemorative activities…wear masks, visit outside of the Memorial Day weekend, and maintain distance from others in your party. We will not let the pandemic stop us from honoring these incredible women who risked their lives to do their part for the war effort, and led the way for so many of us,” she adds.
You don’t have to be a WAI member to #HonorTheWASP. A database of WASP gravesites, including Google maps to their locations, may be found HERE [https://www.wai-crc.com/honor-the-wasp]. The original database was provided by Texas Woman’s University (TWU), the home of the Women Airforce Service Pilots archives, and is regularly augmented through research efforts of WAI staff. WAI also provides a commemorative tag that may be printed out and used by all (https://www.wai.org/sites/default/files/assets/News/news_wasp-button.png).
In each of the previous three years, #HonorTheWASP participants have visited and decorated nearly 100 WASP gravesites annually. WAI and TWU continue to improve the database and add WASP burial sites regularly.
Participants are asked to tweet a photograph of their visit and include who they visited and where they are located using the hashtag #HonorTheWASP. WAI will retweet all posts to its over 20,000 Twitter followers and other social media outlets.
As many cemeteries have changed their hours of operation due to COVID-19, WAI also suggests that participants contact the cemetery to plan for hours to visit the gravesites and to check the database to confirm that their list is current as additions are made as necessary.
About the WASP: The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) were inducted into WAI’s International Pioneer Hall of Fame in 1993. The WASP flew for the U.S. Army Airforce from September 1942 to December 1944. Some 1,102 women wore the silver wings flying over 70 million miles and delivering 12,650 airplanes across the country during their time of operation. Today, there are 25 WASP still living.