House passes bill to allow female pilots’ ashes at Arlington

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Photo by Dan Sagalyn

Female World War II pilots are again eligible to have their ashes placed at Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Dan Sagalyn

WASHINGTON — The House has passed legislation to allow female World War II pilots known as WASPs to continue placing their ashes at Arlington National Cemetery.

Lawmakers on Tuesday voted 385-0 to approve the bill sponsored by an Arizona Republican, congresswoman Martha McSally, herself a retired Air Force fighter pilot.

The WASPs served in a special unit called Women Airforce Service Pilots. They flew noncombat missions to free up male pilots for combat.

During the war, the women were considered civilians. But since 1977, federal law has granted them status as veterans. They had been eligible since 2002 to have their ashes placed at Arlington with military honors. But the Army ruled last year that the WASPs never should have been allowed in and revoked their eligibility.

McSally’s bill reverses that decision.

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