When Elaine D. Harmon passed away at the age of 95 last spring, she left one simple request behind for her family. As a former member of a 1,000-women Women’s Air Service Pilots (WASP) unit during World War II that helped transport military aircraft and bombers, and teach male pilots to fly them, Harmon requested that her ashes be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.
Unfortunately this would turn out to be a far more complicated task than anyone in her family had anticipated. According to an article posted by the New York Times, nearly a year later Harmon has still not had a funeral due to restrictions preventing her from being buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The reasoning behind this is that the Army has stated WASPs were not technically a part of the military. Not that anyone really believes that.
However, Republican representative of Arizona, Martha McSally, is not going to let that fly. McSally, who was the Air Force’s premiere female fighter pilot to fly in combat, is introducing legislation that would finally enable members of the WASP unit to have their burials at Arlington. McSally was quoted as saying in the New York Times piece,
“If you’re not going to do the right thing, we’re going to make it happen.”