Flying Bombers in World War II
Stories my mother told me.
- By Melissa Jordan
- Air & Space magazine, August 2010
(Page 4 of 4)
As the years went on, my mother’s body could not keep up with the sharpness of her mind. In 1997, she flew out to join me in Washington, D.C., for the dedication of the Women in Military Service for America memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Using a wheelchair, and with her vision fading, she found the trip challenging, but she told me she wouldn’t have missed it for the world. That journey was my mother’s last time on an airplane. The female pilot of the flight out of Washington was so thrilled to have a WASP on board, she called for a standing ovation from the passengers and brought my mother up to check out the cockpit. Mom was exhausted, but she wasn’t about to pass up a chance to check out the controls on a jumbo jet.
At the dedication, I watched my mother beaming with quiet pride as astronaut Eileen Collins, who would go on to become the first woman to command a space shuttle mission, addressed the crowd of thousands, singling out the WASPs for their inspiration and for breaking down the barriers against women’s careers in aviation. Dozens of people recognized the distinctive wings on Mom’s jacket and approached her. They came up to shake her hand, thank her for her service, and to take a picture with her. It was a remarkable moment in a life lived largely in the shadows of history.
Melissa Jordan is a writer based in the Washington, D.C. area.