Thursday, July 16, 2009

In "This Man's Army..."

If it weren't for the women, employed by "this mans' Army" (and other branches of the U.S. military) during WWII, the Allies wouldn't have had such great success. The Women of the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) flew every type of mission except combat during WWII for the Army Air Corp. And, the WAC (Women's Army Corps) began in May of 1942 and also did all Army jobs except combat (stateside and overseas).

From Wikipedia: General Douglas MacArthur called the WACs "my best soldiers", adding that they worked harder, complained less, and were better disciplined than men.[6] Many generals wanted more of them and proposed to draft women but it was realised that this "would provoke considerable public outcry and Congressional opposition" and the War Department declined to take such a drastic step.[7] Those 150,000 women that did serve released the equivalent of 7 divisions of men for combat. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower said that "their contributions in efficiency, skill, spirit, and determination are immeasurable".[8] During the same time period, other branches of the U.S. military had similar women's units, including the Navy WAVES, the SPARS of the Coast Guard and the (civil) Women Airforce Service Pilots. The British Armed Forces also had similar units, including the Women's Auxiliary Air Force.

Two amazing young adult fiction books I read this summer teach the history of the WAC and WASP with flair (and both from the perspective of African American - or "Colored" at the time - women). I keep recommending (OK, nearly badgering) people to read both books.

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith is the tale of Ida Mae passing as a white pilot to join the WASP during WWII. I loved the book so entirely that I emailed the author with my compliments. Ms. Smith was so nice, and recommended a few more books to me to read, including the amazing Mare's Ware by Tanita S. Davis. Mare's War flashes back and forth between the present day (complete with two I-Pod and cell-phone wielding teenagers) and the 1940's when Mare (Octavia and Tali's gramma) lied about her age in order to join the WAC (Women Army Corps). Both are stories of two strong, smart, hard-working women who are certainly heroines, and great role models for all young women.

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