My Mother Had Wings

The daughter of a WASP tells her mother’s tale.

(Courtesy Melissa Jordan)

A Military Funeral

(Courtesy Melissa Jordan)

“Thirty-eight WASP died in service,” writes Jordan, “including Paula Loop [far right], one of my mother’s dearest friends. My mother was dispatched to escort her body home to Oklahoma. As civilians, the WASP had no right to a military funeral, not even a flag for the coffin. My mother told this story again and again:”

'I had to go back with her body on the train. And they had told me that she was not entitled to a flag or a military funeral or anything. Well, I have to tell you, this gal came from a huge family in Oklahoma—a lot of them were pilots, a lot of them were World War I vets, and they were all members of the American Legion of Honor and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. And when that train pulled in, there were hundreds—literally hundreds—of people at that station. And most of them in their old uniforms, with the flags and the whole works…a rifle squad. I was petrified; I ran for the station manager’s office and asked him to make a call to my base. And I got the commander of the base and told him what was going on, and he said, "Don’t say a word. If anyone says anything, they can talk to me." So she had a military funeral, and it was a beautiful one.'

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