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YANKEE DOODLE GALS: Women Pilots of World War II

NEW, UPDATED version of YANKEE DOODLE GALS — with NEW PHOTOS about the WASP pilots crowning honor—the CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL, that they were awarded in 2010. Available wherever books are sold.

WASP Lillian Yonally (far R) with a troop of wonderful Girl Scouts and author Amy Nathan at the Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center, March 13, 2010 — at a book-signing for YANKEE DOODLE GALS on the museum's "Girl Scout Day" — just three days after the WASP pilots received the CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL in an amazing ceremony in the U.S. Capitol building.

No wonder there are smiles all around !

YANKEE DOODLE GALS, a photo-filled book published by National Geographic, with a Foreword by Astronaut Eileen Collins, tells the story of the gutsy women pilots who served the nation during World War II: the WASP, Women Airforce Service Pilots. Through personal profiles of many of these daring young women, this book highlights the contribution they made in opening doors for today's female pilots.

It's a book that the WASP themselves have often donated to school libraries, in an effort to help young people learn what it was like to be aviation pioneers who were definitely way ahead of their time.

WASPs the late Elaine Harmon (left) and the late Dot Lewis at a book-signing for YANKEE DOODLE GALS on Veterans Day 2009 at the National Air and Space Museum.

About the WASP — and YANKEE DOODLE GALS

In the 1940s, a group of daring young women did something women weren't expected to do back then: They flew fighter planes, bombers, and every other kind of military aircraft the Army had. They were WASPs — Women Airforce Service Pilots — the first women to fly on a wide range of missions for the United States armed forces.

 

Some were teenagers, right out of high school or just starting college. Others were teachers, librarians, flight instructors, or offices workers. They stopped what they were doing for the chance to fly fantastic planes and help their country win the war. These 1,102 women weren't allowed to fly in combat, but for two glorious years they put their lives on the line every day flying important, and often risky, stateside missions. They flew well and proved that a woman's place could very well be inside a military cockpit.

 

Then suddenly, their adventure ended. In December 1944, as the war was going better for the U.S., the Army closed down the WASPs, even though the program had been a great success. The women were heartbroken. It would be nearly 30 years before women were allowed to fly for the military again. In 1977, the WASP were finally recognized as having performed military duties during the war, but it wasn't until 2010, nearly seventy years after the program was started, that the WASP received formal, official thanks from the U.S. government for their wartime service, with the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal.

 

This book tells the story of these World War II pioneers, from the first squadron formed in the fall of 1942 — called WAFS — 28 highly experienced pilots who began delivering planes for the Army right away, while a training program for other female pilots started in Texas. In the summer of 1943, both groups (WAFS and the training program) combined into one unit: the WASPs.

 

You'll meet several of these women who were interviewed specially for this book. A Resource Guide offers tips on becoming a pilot, with suggestions from today's women pilots, including NASA astronaut Eileen Collins, who, in the Foreword, explains how grateful she is to the WASPs for helping to open the skies for women.

 

The new UPDATED version of the book—available for sale starting in January 2014—includes NEW photos about their crowning honor, received on March 10, 2010, the day the nation officially said "Thank you," when Congress presented the WASP pilots with the CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL, the highest honor Congress can bestow on civilians. This book was originally published in 2001, long before the Gold Medal was dreamed of, and so it is important to now update the book to include information on the Medal.

 

The Bibliography and Resources section have also been updated, but the rest of the book remains unchanged — still telling the WASPs' inspiring story.

WASP Shirley Kruse (R) signing copy of YANKEE DOODLE GALS at burial service for WASP Elaine Harmon at Arlington National Cemetery September 7, 2016 . This copy, signed by other WASP and dignitaries at this ceremony, was presented by author Amy Nathan (L) to the Harmon family as a memento of this momentous day. Elaine Harmon would herself donate copies of YANKEE DOODLE GALS to schools and libraries when she gave talks about the WASP to young people.
The author (right) With Julia Lauria Blum at a book signing for YANKEE DOODLE GALS at the WASP exhibit at the American Airpower Museum, Farmingdale, NY

YANKEE DOODLE GALS won a GOLD MEDAL for "Excellence in Communciation" from AWC - Association of Women in Communciation