When Dorothy "Dot" Lewis, a former Women's Airforce Service Pilot in World War II, passed away this September, her son wanted to do something special to honor her and the other 1,073 WASPs. What better way to honor such an important but largely forgotten aspect of the US Military than with the US's most historic tradition of football-subsidized pageantry?
Everyone get your 'Danger Zone' on because shit's about to get real. The WASPs were as badass as they came, brought on when there was a shortage of pilots so the men could report for overseas combat duty. While the women were not trained in combat, they underwent standard aviation training, tested recently repaired aircraft, shuttled supplies, and air-chauffeured top brass. They even taught newbie servicemen the basics of piloting—"If we can teach them to walk, we can teach them to fly."
Sadly enough, the US Military sort of just ditched these women in 'civil service,' denying them for decades the military benefits and recognition they deserved:
"WASPs were classified as civilian pilots, with a promise that they would later be classified as military. Instead, in December 1944, as the war's end approached, the program was disbanded. The families of the 38 women who died were not allowed to display gold stars in their windows, because their daughters were not recognized as veterans."
More than thirty years later in 1977, the WASPS were granted full military status and only in 2009 were they awarded Congressional Gold Medals. Better late than never I guess, but really?
While having a float in the Rose Parade is not cheap (around a quarter million dollars), the WASP non-profit Wingtip-to-Wingtip has raised funds and will be joining the Miracle-Gro, NBC's The Voice and eHarmony floats in January.