- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - All 17 female senators want to see female pilots who served during World War II receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor Congress can give.

The award would go to members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP, who flew noncombat missions from 1942 to 1944 while male counterparts were sent to combat.

“The Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II were trailblazers and true patriots,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat who is leading the effort along with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican. “They risked their lives in service to our nation, but for too long their contribution to the war effort has been undervalued or under recognized.”

Hutchison said the women paved the way for all women who serve in the military today.

“More than 50 years have passed since the intrepid Women Airforce Service Pilots bravely served in World War II, but these women have yet to receive the recognition they deserve,” she said.

About 300 of the 1,102 women who served as pilots are still alive. Under the legislation introduced Tuesday, the gold medals would go to all the living pilots and to the family members of those who have died.

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