Elizabeth L. 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 more than 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 70 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 practice of issuing gold medals to occasionally honor recipients from the military began during the American Revolution. Later the practice extended to individuals in all walks of life and in the late 20th century also to groups. The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are the highest civilian awards in the United States. The congressional medal seeks to honor those, individually or as a group, "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." Thus, there are generally fewer gold medals than presidential medals. 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.
Rockford High School is a defunct high school of Rockford Public School District 205 in Rockford, Illinois. Opened in 1885, Rockford High School was the first school opened by the newly formed (citywide) school district. Standing for 130 years, Rockford High School would serve as a high school from 1885 until 1940, when city growth necessitated its replacement with two separate high schools, Rockford East and Rockford West. From 1940 to 2011, the building was repurposed, serving as the administration offices of the school district. As of the 2017-2018 school year, Rockford Public School District 205 attend four high schools.
Upon enlisting as a WASP member, 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 about 22; 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.
The Boeing B-29 Superfortress is a four-engine propeller-driven heavy bomber designed by Boeing and flown primarily by the United States during World War II and the Korean War. Named in allusion to its predecessor, the B-17 Flying Fortress, the Superfortress was designed for high-altitude strategic bombing but also excelled in low-altitude night incendiary bombing. B-29s also dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which led to the end of World War II.
"Little Boy" was the codename for the type of atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 during World War II. It was the first nuclear weapon used in warfare. The bomb was dropped by the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay piloted by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., commander of the 509th Composite Group of the United States Army Air Forces. It exploded with an energy of approximately 15 kilotons of TNT (63 TJ) and caused widespread death and destruction throughout the city. The Hiroshima bombing was the second man-made nuclear explosion in history, after the Trinity test, and the first uranium-based detonation.
Gardner 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,WASP members 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.
Nancy Harkness Love, born Hannah Lincoln Harkness, was an American pilot and commander during World War II. She earned her pilot's license at age 16. She worked as a test pilot and air racer in the 1930s. During World War II she convinced William H. Tunner to look to set up a group of female pilots to ferry aircraft from factories to air bases. This proposal was eventually approved as the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. Love commanded this unit and later all ferrying operations in the newly formed Women Airforce Service Pilots. She was awarded the Air Medal for her work during the war and was appointed lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force Reserve in 1948.
Hazel Ying Lee was a Chinese-American pilot who flew for the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II.
Ann G. Baumgartner Carl was an American aviator who became the first American woman to fly a United States Army Air Forces jet aircraft when she flew the Bell YP-59A jet fighter at Wright Field as a test pilot during World War II. She was assigned to Wright Field as an assistant operations officer in the fighter test section as member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots program.
Micky Axton was an American aviator who was a test pilot during World War II. Axton was "one of the first three Women Airforce Service Pilots to be trained as a test pilot" and was the first woman to fly a B-29.
Maggie Gee was an American aviator who served in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) in World War II. She was one of two Chinese American women to serve in the organization, the other being Hazel Ying Lee. As a WASP pilot, she helped male pilots train for combat, as female pilots were not allowed to serve in combat at that time. She also ferried military aircraft.
Suzanne "Sue" Upjohn DeLano Parish was an American aviator. Parish was a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) during World War II. In 1977, with her husband, Pete Parish, she was the co-founder of the Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum, later known as the Air Zoo, after the animal nicknames of the planes.
Elizabeth "Betty" Strohfus was an American aviator and pioneering member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II. Strohfus, one of just 1,074 female pilots to earn silver wings for the WASPs, flew noncombat missions from 1943 to 1944, often ferrying military planes throughout the United States. She also trained male air and infantry gunners at Las Vegas Army Airfield during the early 1940s. Elizabeth Strohfus was the recipient of two Congressional Gold Medals for her service in the WASPs and was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame. She was believed to be one of the last surviving WASP aviators.
Grace E. "Betty" Lotowycz was an American botanist, a pioneering woman alpinist, and Women Airforce Service Pilot in World War II.
Elaine D. Harmon was an American from Maryland who served in the U.S. Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II. In 2009 she received a Congressional Gold Medal for her service as a pilot during World War II. As a WASP pilot, she has been accorded full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. In 2016, Ms. Harmon was posthumously inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame.
Elizabeth "Betty" Maxine Chambers was one of the first female pilots in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program in which women took on non-combat flying duties so more male pilots were available for combat. She was in WASP Class of 44-W-3 as part of the 318th Army Air Forces Flying Training Detachment. She became a pilot shortly after her husband lost his life while flying, despite the fact that she had a new baby, and was the only recent widow and mother to have served as a WASP.
Dorothy Swain Lewis was an American aviator who trained Navy pilots and flew with the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program during World War II. She was also an artist who created a series of cast-bronze sculptures of WASP pilots for various World War II memorial sites.
Marie Odean Bishop Parrish, known as Deanie Parrish is a former US air force pilot who served as a WASP Pilot during WWII. She is known for being one of Florida's first female air force aviators. She joined the air force aged 21, and after earning her wings, worked as an engineering test pilot at Greenville air force base. And later retrained to tow target planes during training exercises.
Dawn Seymour was a Women Airforce Service Pilot during World War II. She would later lobby for military status for the Women Airforce Service Pilots as well as encourage recognition of their contributions to the war effort during World War II.
Betty Jane "BJ" Williams was an American aviator. She worked in various fields in the aviation industry throughout her life and became a Lieutenant Colonel by the time she retired from the United States Airforce Reserves in 1979. Williams also served as one of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) in 1944. She was also noted for her military and industrial film-work.
Florence Shutsy-Reynolds was an American aviator. She served with the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II. Later, she worked as a designer for the WASP organization store, creating jewellery and designs for the group.
Mary Anna Martin "Marty" Wyall was an American aviator. Wyall was part of the last class of Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and later became the unofficial WASP historian. She was instrumental in organizing the WASP veterans together years after they served.
Selma Kantor Cronan was an American aviator. She was part of the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II, and after the war, she continued to fly. She was especially known for competing in air races such as the Powder Puff Derby.
Dorothy Eleanor Olsen was an American aircraft pilot and member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) in World War II.
Verneda G. Rodriguez McLean was an American aviator and served in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II. She was one of the first WASP to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
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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