The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Web Extra

November 7, 2013

Female pilots of WWII set eyes on Rose Bowl float

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

But getting a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade is a difficult thing. Even after a formal application is accepted, the entrance fee is $5,000, and the total cost of float construction can approach a quarter of a million dollars.

The group began fundraising in earnest last February, accepting both $10 checks and one large $60,000 pledge from a former WASP in Texas.

Then, in the fall, Dot Lewis' health began failing. Chig put fundraising efforts on hold. To give their float designer enough time to complete the project by the Jan. 1 parade date, Chig figured, they would need to have the money pledged by Veterans Day.

"It's really a very public way to do a final honor for these women, to say thanks for their service," says Kate Landdeck, vice president of Wingtip-to-Wingtip and a history professor at Texas Women's University.

The WASPs were the creation of racing pilot Jacqueline Cochran and aviator Nancy Harkness Love, who envisioned a domestic team of female military pilots freeing up male pilots for combat abroad. WASPs flew recently repaired planes to make sure equipment was functioning properly. They hauled cargo and air-chauffeured top brass to meetings. They introduced green servicemen to the air, with the winking motto, "If we can teach them to walk, we can teach them to fly." Thirty-eight women died in this service to their country.

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.

The WASPs received a letter informing them that their service was over. Two days after that letter came, "several of us received letters from aircraft companies inviting us to come and be stewardesses," remembers Rohrer. "I was so angry, I tore that letter up."

The WASPs would finally be granted full military status in 1977, and they were awarded Congressional Gold Medals in 2010.

Chig Lewis says that a place in the Rose Bowl parade would have pleased his mother, although, ever the cool pilot, she wouldn't show it too much. "She was a remarkable woman," he says. "She was the bravest person I know."

Text Only
Web Extra
  • Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 2.00.42 PM.png VIDEO: Train collides with semi truck carrying lighter fluid

    A truck driver from Washington is fortunate to be alive after driving his semi onto a set of tracks near Somerset, Ky., and being struck by a locomotive, which ignited his load of charcoal lighter fluid.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 22, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 22, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 22, 2014

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 18, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 18, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • web_starbucks-cof_big_ce.jpg Starbucks sees more Apple-like stores after Colombia debut

    This week Starbucks opened its first location in Colombia — a 2,700-square-foot store with a heated patio, concrete columns, mirrors on the ceiling and walls of colorful plants.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: New story emerges about Texas children locked in hot car

    After footage showed Texas shoppers breaking the windows of a hot car to rescue children trapped inside, additional witnesses have come forward to correct the story behind what has become a viral video.

    July 16, 2014