U.S. SENATE — U.S. Senator Steve Daines’ bill to allow women World War II pilots to be eligible for inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery is headed to President Obama’s desk for his signature.
The U.S. House of Representatives last night passed Daines’ legislation following unanimous Senate passage on May 11, 2016.
“This is a wrong that needed to be made right and I’m proud to be part of restoring benefits to our WWII women pilots who trained right here in Montana,” Daines stated. “With the President’s signature, our women pilots will now have the honor that they have always deserved.”
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Daines’ legislation S. 2437, Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act directs the Secretary of the Army to allow Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), who served on Active Duty in WWII to be eligible for inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery.
Malmstrom Air Force Base was a famous training ground for the WASPs in WWII, when it was formerly known as Great Falls Army Air Base. WASPs, who flew noncombat missions to free up male pilots, were granted veteran status in 1977 and made eligible for inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery in 2002.
In 2015, the former Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, who sets the inurnment policy at Arlington, revoked the right of WASPs to be inurned at the cemetery citing space constraints. There was no warning or discussion before this decision.