Vivian Eddy, shown coming out of a Bell P-63 Kingcobra, received an American Campaign Medal, awarded to the WASP in 1977.
At 88, Vivian Eddy still rails loudly about the disbanding of the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). It was a program through which she and more than 1,000 other women made a lasting if little-mentioned mark on World War II and U.S. combat aviation.
“I thought it was the nastiest thing they (Army Air Forces officials) could have done to us,” Eddy says while receiving visitors at her home in Coronado. “They fired us. They gave our jobs to Air Force men who didn't want to go overseas. I would have gone overseas in a minute — I was a (heck of) a good fighter pilot.”
Joyce Secciani, at home in El Cajon, is calmer on the subject. But despite a fading memory, at 87 she still shares Vivian's passion for the WASP and her disappointment with its demise. She, like Vivian, was one of the 1,102 women who flew in the all-volunteer program between 1942 and 1944.
“All of us felt bad to lose (our flying jobs) — all of us wanted to keep up our ability to fly,” Secciani says. Because they knew that with prevailing chauvinistic attitudes, there would be no pilots' work for them in the civilian realm.
But a small triumph has been wrought for the legacy of the WASP. Last month, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that awards the Congressional Gold Medal to Women Airforce Service Pilots.
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