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Women in the Air Force – displays in World War II Gallery

Picture of General Henry Arnold and Jacqueline Cochran after presenting her the Distinguished Service Medal.

General Henry Arnold presented Jacqueline Cochran with the Distinguished Service Medal in December 1945.

Black and white picture of Jacqueline CochranFollowing the Story of Jacqueline Cochran

Flying with a Mission

Prior to the development of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program in the United States, Jacqueline Cochran recruited American female pilots to join the Royal Air Forces Air Transport Auxiliary during World War II. Women’s participation in the war publicized the shortage of pilots available to deliver aircraft to combat areas and demonstrated the usefulness of female pilots.

In the summer of 1942, Cochran returned to the US to organize the US Army Air Forces (AAF) women’s pilot training program per the request of General Henry “Hap” Arnold, AAF Commanding General. From September 15, 1942, until December 20, 1944, Cochran organized 1,074 female pilots for the WASP program and its predecessor, the Women's Flying Training Detachment. During that time period, these pilots delivered 12,650 aircraft of 78 types.

In 1945, General Arnold awarded Cochran the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest non-combat award, for her work as founder and director of the WASP program. This decoration was presented to Cochran in a civilian status because the WASP did not receive military credit for their wartime duties. Her efforts during the war broke down barriers that had prevented women from participating in military aviation careers. Her hard work and diligence expanded roles for women during World War II and for generations of future risk takers.

Mask Policy:
In accordance with the updated guidance released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Defense (DoD) and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force will require all visitors to wear face masks indoors effective July 30, 2021 until further notice.

Visitors ages three and up will be required to wear masks while indoors at the museum. This policy applies to all visitors, staff and volunteers regardless of vaccination status. Visitors may wear their own masks or a free paper mask will be provided. Cloth masks will also be available for purchase in the Museum Store.
Additional information available here.

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