Elizabeth L. Remba Gardner
Gardner in the pilot's seat of a Martin B-26 Marauder
|Died|| (aged 90)|
|Service/||United States Army Air Corps|
Elizabeth L. Gardner (1921 – December 22, 2011) was an American pilot during World War II who served as a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). She was one of the first American female military pilotsand the subject of a well-known photograph, sitting in the pilot's seat of a Martin B-26 Marauder.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), was a civilian women pilots' organization, whose members were United States federal civil service employees. Members of WASP became trained pilots who tested aircraft, ferried aircraft and trained other pilots. Their purpose was to free male pilots for combat roles during World War II. Despite various members of the armed forces being involved in the creation of the program, the WASP and its members had no military standing.
The Martin B-26 Marauder is an American twin-engined medium bomber built by the Glenn L. Martin Company in Middle River, Maryland from 1941 to 1945. First used in the Pacific Theater of World War II in early 1942, it was also used in the Mediterranean Theater and in Western Europe.
In 2009, the 300 living WASP pilots were awarded a Congressional Gold Medal through a unit citation.
A Congressional Gold Medal is an award bestowed by the United States Congress. The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are the highest civilian awards in the United States. It is awarded to people "who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient's field long after the achievement." However, "There are no permanent statutory provisions specifically relating to the creation of Congressional Gold Medals. When a Congressional Gold Medal has been deemed appropriate, Congress has, by legislative action, provided for the creation of a medal on an ad hoc basis." U.S. citizenship is not a requirement.
Gardner was born in Rockford, Illinois,in 1921. She graduated from Rockford High School in 1939. She was a mother and housewife before the war started. After she married, she took the last name Remba.
Rockford is a city in Winnebago County in the U.S. state of Illinois, in far northern Illinois. Located on the banks of the Rock River, Rockford is the county seat of Winnebago County. The largest city in Illinois outside of the Chicago metropolitan area, Rockford is the third-largest city in the state and the 171st most populous in the United States According to 2010 U.S. Census Data, the City of Rockford had a population of 152,871, with an outlying metropolitan area population of 348,360. The City of Rockford's population is 147,051 as of 2017, down 4.1% since 2010.
After enlisting as a Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), Gardner "had two days of training under Lieutenant Col. Paul Tibbets, who later commanded the B-29 that dropped the first atom bomb on Hiroshima."She was the subject of an often-reproduced historical photo when she was 22 [see image above]; the original is held at the National Archives. The photograph became emblematic of the place of women in the service of their country.
Paul Warfield Tibbets Jr. was a brigadier general in the United States Air Force. He is best known as the pilot who flew the B-29 Superfortress known as the Enola Gay when it dropped Little Boy, the first of two atomic bombs used in warfare, on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
Gardiner flew Martin B-26 Marauder medium bombers,including the AT-23 trainer version of the bomber. One of her stations was in Dodge City, Kansas. She was trained as a test pilot and flight instructor, and she also flew aircraft that towed aerial targets.
Dodge City is the county seat of Ford County, Kansas, United States, named after nearby Fort Dodge. The city is famous in American culture for its history as a wild frontier town of the Old West. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 27,340.
After years of fighting for recognition of their military service,Women Airforce Service Pilots were recognized with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.
In December 1944, the government disbanded WASP, and Gardner returned to the private sector. She was a commercial pilot after World War II, flying for Piper Aircraft Corporation in Pennsylvania.In that capacity, she became involved in public relations, using her piloting skills to ferry Piper customers, meeting with the Department of Defense, and writing all of William T. Piper's speeches.
Gardner worked as a test pilot after the war, including for General Textile Mills, which was working on an aircraft parachute that was intended to safely land aircraft that became disabled in flight. She participated in at least two tests with the device in December 1945, both of which forced her to bail out of the aircraft when the parachute became tangled in the test aircraft. During the second incident, the aircraft entered a dive when its elevators were jammed by the parachute; Gardner escaped from the cockpit, but she was only 500 ft (150 m) from the ground when her own parachute opened.
She died in New York on December 22, 2011.Rockford, Illinois held a mural festival downtown in 2019 and included a mural by Ohio artists Jenny Roesel Ustick and Atalie Gagnet based on Gardner's time as a WASP.
Memorial for Elizabeth L. Gardner Remba at Find A Grave with additional information
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WASPs have won one last battle.
...WASP aviator during WWII, brave and caring social justice activist, writer, computer programmer, autodidact with a vast range of curiosities and pursuits.
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