Policy

WWII Women Pilots Want to Rest at Arlington, Too

WASPs burial rights were denied last year and McSally wants them back

WASPs were able to be buried at Arlington National Cemetary until last year. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Women Air Service Pilots in World War II, also known as WASPs, do not qualify for military burial honors and a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers are not happy about it.

In a charge lead by former fighter pilot Rep. Martha McSally, R – Ariz., lawmakers held a news conference on Wednesday urging the Obama administration to reinstate the WASPs at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Department of the Army manages Arlington, as well as other military cemeteries. There were 1,074 women pilots in WWII and 38 were killed in service.

Since 2002, WASPs were eligible to have their ashes placed at Arlington, but last year, the Army revoked these rights. One WASP, Elaine Danforth Harmon, died in April at 95 and her family is working with McSally and change.org to overturn the Army’s decision.

McSally was joined by Sens. Joni Ernst, R – Iowa, who served in the Army Reserve and Iowa National Guard, and Amy Klobuchar, D – Minn.

Also supporting the WASPs were Democrat Reps. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a member of the Hawaii National Guard and Loretta Sanchez of California, and Republican Reps. Bruce Poliquin of Maine, and Ryan Zinke of Montana, a navy officer.

On March 10, McSally announced that 163 House members cosponsored her bill on the issue, which she introduced in January.

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