Attending an air show at the Monroe Airport held each November can bring lasting memories. I,David Helms, have certainly found that to be the case in my experiences. About 8 years ago in 2011, I had the opportunity to meet a truly special lady. Bernice “Bee” Haydu was stationed inside a hangar at the Monroe Airport. I noticed that she was wearing a military uniform, but had no knowledge of the role she and over 1800 other WASP members played in WWII. Personally, I had no knowledge that such a group of honorable service ladies even existed. Their significant contribution to WWII merits special recognition. As I spoke to “Bee” that day with my wife, Susan, and son Chandler present, my admiration and respect for her and other WASP members grew enormously.

These ladies, who already had their pilot license, had to undergo intense pilot training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas which lasted for about 6 months. Becoming a WASP member was extremely competitive. Over 25,000 young ladies, many in their 20’s, were vying to become WASP members and essentially be the taxi service for the bomber pilots. Less than 1900 ladies in such a large pool, met the criteria and qualified for training. These lady pilots had to train and learn the necessary piloting skills needed to fly B-17, B-24, and B-25 aircraft. During WWII, 38 brave and well trained WASP members lost their lives.

 

 

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