A key fact was missing from the CBS report featuring former Secretary of the Army’s John M. McHugh’s decision to kick the World War II WASPS out of Arlington, as reported by CBS News.
Missing from the CBS report, was this:
John McHugh has never served one day in the military.
The CBS report highlighted our WASPS, reporting:
“Since 1977, federal law has granted the WASPs status as veterans and since 2002, they have been eligible to have their ashes placed at Arlington with military honors.
But in March, then-Secretary of the Army John McHugh ruled our WASPs never should have been allowed in and revoked their eligibility.”
Again. John McHugh has never served one day in the military.
Kinda think CBS should have mentioned that.
Put another way; the way John M.McHugh “served” was as a lifelong civilian, politician.
But this is 2016, people; we can fix this! Please sign the petition to over-turn civilian McHugh’s, directive on Change.org, here.
A little background
John M. McHugh’s career since graduating college, was politics.
McHugh has a daughter with his ex-wife, and in 2012, was voted one of the 50th prettiest Congressmen, by The Hill.
However, to address more important matters, perhaps this space could serve to educate in the form of an open letter to John McHugh. Unsure as I am whether Mr. McHugh has ever met a WASP, will try to provide some insight.
Dear Mr. McHugh;
Please allow me to introduce my friend, and former WASP, Margot DeMoss.
Margot is a neighbor of my Dad, also a WWII pilot.
Margot’s love of flight began as an eight-year old accompanying her dad took to the county fair. A local pilot had his airplane parked outside with a sign offering rides for a dollar.
Margot’s dad paid the man, she hopped aboard and just like that, Margot’s destiny was in place moments after take-off.
(Margot still loves everything about flying.)
Later, when Margot’s brother went off to war in WWII, Margot, as well as many other women, were desperate to serve.
In an interview with the Riverside Press, Margot, then 22; said her main thought was,
“There’s got to be a way I can help us win.”
(Interestingly, Mr. McHugh, I noticed you graduated from high school in 1966, during the Vietnam War, and then it was off to college for you.)
But; I digress.
Margot’s first thought was to enlist as ambulance driver after her brother was wounded. However, and always in touch with other girl pilots, Margot got a call saying women pilots were needed for training.
That was all it took for Massachusetts native Margot, to jump on a train bound for Sweetwater, Texas. She was determined to finish seven months of hard training, to become a licensed, military pilot.
A. Licensed. Military. Pilot.
A. Licensed. Military. Pilot. Mr. McHugh.
Over 25,00 women applied, Mr. McHugh. But of the over a thousand plus women accepted, just 1,034 actually earned their wings. Margot was one of them. Click here for the extensive list of types of aircraft these women routinely, flew. Your jaw might drop.
Also, 38 women died in crashes, Mr. McHugh.
Margot told me there was no time to mourn those women. They were too busy working. Since the women offered no military benefits, the under-paid women just passed the hat to get a woman’s body home to her family.
Margo, flew the AT-6 a single-engine advanced trainer, and towed targets so the pilots could practice with live ammunition, Mr. McHugh. Yes; you read that right. Live rounds.
Margot also told me of the time she avoided a crash.
After transporting an injured pilot to a local hospital, (he passed out when he saw she was the pilot) Margot’s engine caught fire on the way back. Fortunately, Margot was flying at her normal, higher-than-most, altitude when the engine fire began, but the good folks in the tower were nervous. When the guys in the tower instructed her to bail, Margot sweetly but determinedly answered,
“No, I’m not going to do it. I can see the tower. I’ll just glide in until I make it to the runway.”
(At the time Margot weighed maybe 90 pounds, dripping wet.)
The ambulances and fire engines were waiting on the runway when Margot landed. She didn’t have a scratch. Plane was a little scorched. Never-the-less, everyone told Margot to hit the Officer’s Club for a Bloody Mary.
I think she probably did.
But I mention this, Mr. McHugh, as Margot and the other women racked up an impressive list of accomplishments during their military service.
Margot worked very hard, until December 1944, Mr. McHugh. That’s when our WASPS were suddenly dropped like hot potatoes. Without so much as a plane ticket or train-ticket home.
Not that getting home was a real problem. What is true now, was true then. Margot has a sincere kind of effortless charm. Which means all kinds of people are constantly clamoring to do favors for her. She can’t help It. Margot is and remains one of the sweetest individuals I’ve ever met. She got home because she knew a lot of guy pilots and had no shortage of offers of short hops until she could get to a homeward bound, train.
I must say though, my favorite picture of Margot isn’t in uniform. It’s from a couple of years ago, where once again, Margot was accidentally charming a ABC cameraman in preparation of an interview, below. (Margot was also featured on NBC Worldwide News on January 1, 2014.)
Sweet Margot has no bitterness about the treatment of our WASPS. She continued to fly around the world with her second husband, and after his death, met and a married the handsome Navy commander, Chuck DeMoss.
As for the jettisoning of the WASP program, Margot simply said,
“They came and told us good-bye. They said the men were coming back and wanted the jobs.”
But in all, Mr. McHugh, from September 1942, to December, 1944; our WASPS flew 78 kinds of planes, and logged more than 60 million miles while delivering 12,650 aircraft.
That’s a lot of patriotic, service Mr. McHugh.
So it would seem your decision as a civilian commander, Mr. McHugh, to strip these women of their hard-won, rights; cannot be limited to shocking.
In my opinion Mr. McHugh, it was shockingly Un-American.
Never mind completely disrespectful to them as human beings.
Especially since for some reason, the original records of our WASPS were sealed for 35 years. Not until General Hap Arnold and Barry Goldwater fought for our WASPS in their infamous, “Battle of Congress” were WASPS were recognized as veterans of World War II.
President Jimmy Carter signed legislation #95–202, Section 401, The G.I. Bill Improvement Act of 1977, granting our WASP corps full military status for their service.
Yet, in your decision to override President Carter, CBS did not mention Army lawyers agreed with you. Which says a lot about Army lawyers — just not anything good.
Then in 1984, each WASP was awarded the World War II Victory Medal, a little over four decades after their service. The hand holding the medal below belongs to Margot.
My hope is your replacement agrees with my friend, and Senior Federal Aviation Medical Examiner, Oklahoma State Representative, Dr. Mike Ritze.
Dr. Mike Ritze, said of your action:
“I respectfully disagree with McHugh. As a pilot and military veteran, myself, I have known many female pilots who; just as the WASPS did, served their country well. They should be allowed to be buried alongside the rest of our heroes.”
One last thing, Mr. McHugh, to anyone with your mindset.
When women teach men how to fly a specific aircraft some worried were dangerous; the lessons stay. Don’t take my word for it. See 1995 letter from a male pilot, thanking a former WASP for teaching him how to fly a B-29
I’m not sure the situation will be remedied, Mr. McHugh. There are too many men in command who think like you. Note the Army’s most recent, self-inflicted, black eye, as reported in the Stars and Stripes on December 19, 2014, regarding yet another bizarre sexual assault. This one by Army, Deputy Commander, Lt. Col Michael J. Kepner II, who was the speaker at a luncheon pot luck held by the 188th Infantry Brigade to mark the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.
When Kepner spoke he reminded the soldiers they were all “responsible for bringing an end to sexual assault and harassment,” according to the brigade’s Facebook account.
What Lt. Col. Michael Kepner II, didn’t say – was he was currently facing court-martial on charges that he had sexually harassed and assaulted a female lieutenant on his staff.
With this latest report, and your previous actions, does the ARMY really need to continue punching itself in the eye?
Happy New Year, Mr. McHugh; and if I might make one suggestion, it would be this.
In the spirit of fairness, why don’t you sign the petition to restore the rights our WASPS earned, that you jettisoned?
Click here, to do so. I promise you’ll feel better, Mr. McHugh, and I suspect your daughter might appreciate your doing so, also.
If you have any questions, you can reach me at the number below.
Thank you so much for addressing this subject. Thanks to active citizens such as yourself, Mrs. Harmon’s ashes were able to be inurned at Arlington last September, setting a precedent that hopefully continues to stand into the future.
Margot DeMoss’s story is a fascinating one, as his her husband’s, Charles. I know this article was posted last year, but are you still in touch with those two pilots? I’ve been reaching out to family members of Fighting 18 to try to learn more about the men who served aboard the USS Intrepid during World War II. I’ve already had some wonderful conversations with their children, but all I know of Mr. DeMoss I’ve had to piece together from a couple news articles. It’d be fascinating to hear more about his time as a dive bomber pilot and then a fighter pilot, as well as to hear about Margot’s flight experience as a WASP.
If you’d like to get in touch please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email.
Thanks for writing….and for updating. Am so happy the granddaughters got for Mrs. Harmon got exactly what she was promised.
I saw Margot and Chuck two weeks ago! The women were service pilots….they delivered the planes.
Will contact you.
Elaine Harmon was my grandmother–I’m Erin’s sister and I posted the petition on change.org.
Your post was heartwarming and enlightening. It’s always so nice to hear about other WASP. They are definitely an amazing bunch of women who deserve all the recognition possible–too bad some misogynist government officials don’t get it!
We won’t be giving up the fight until our grandmother’s final wish is granted. I know she wouldn’t have taken no for an answer!
You’re welcome Tiffany. I try to address the disdain towards women, which blooms to the truer, unvarnished, full-blown misogyny, when women point this out.
However, we must keep pointing it out to men, boys and other women. And of course, get this ridiculous man’s order, rubber-stamped by Army lawyers who easily demonstrated their own kind of arrogant disdain, changed.
Elaine Harmon was my grandmother. Thank you for supporting this important issue and for this passionate blog post. Our family appreciates all the support.
My pleasure Erin. My distinct, pleasure.