“News from the Hut”
for American Legion Post #142; Hominy, Oklahoma.
>>> by Gary Lanham
While many of us know that D-Day June 6th marks the anniversary of momentous turning point during WWII, that changed everything through great sacrifice; many miss out on the back stories that added to that great push. At our Post, there are those who served as, what we call in the service, “the point of the spear”. These are the bravest who met the enemy face first under immediate danger of their lives being lost to take that hill, meet that objective, or complete the mission. Many did not come home, and those that did carried wounds most of us will never really comprehend. We honor them the best we can in our meager way.
Today, I would like to spotlight those who were not the point of the spear, but the shaft that gave weight to the spear, the hand and arm that threw the spear. While not usually at the front facing the direct danger, they worked tirelessly to support the success of those that were. Many rode the desk, pushed orders, shipped supplies, and fought bureaucracy to speed quality support. In this category, a group of women who rarely get recognition actually did face dangers, losing thirty-eight of their ranks to missions assigned. I learned about them in June 1973, at USAF Basic Military Training.
The WASPs (Women’s Air Force Service Pilots) were formed to train in flying military aircraft, out to support positions, to ensure after D-Day aircraft need for further mission advancement were in place. On June 6th 1943, they filled the air with bombers and P-51 fighters. In their missions, these 12,000 women flew over 6 million flight hours. Those that died while on duty were classified as civilians and received no recognition, and no survivor benefits to their families. Finally in 1977, they were reclassified as veterans and benefits followed.
In 1977, the first female cadets attended the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs. Today, over 60,000 women serve in the USAF and it’s components. I am proud to say that I served for and with some of the best female officers and airmen/NCOs during my long career. One, of course was Major General Rita Aragon. Through her career, she rose to the position of the Adjutant General over both Oklahoma Army National Guard and Air National Guard reporting to the Governor. Today, she still leads the way as the head of the Oklahoma Secretary of Military and Veteran’s Affairs for the Governor. Today, the WASPs have less than 200 in their ranks left, their motto “We serve too” stands as a testament to their patriotism.
Our regular meetings are the first and third Thursday (5th and 19th June) meeting at 1900 hrs. I will be able to provide an update afterwards on the fix ups going on at the Hut. An added plus is that on a quarterly basis the meetings will be a shared event with the Auxiliary (more details to follow). Monday morning Koffee Klatch meetings for June are still up and running starting around 0700 till about 0900. Dan, Eli, and Jerry usually have things set up where we can catch up on each others mischief and story telling. If you are a veteran come on by. If you have a good story it may end up in print!