As Women’s Veterans Day approaches, a WWII pilot looks back on her service

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In just two days, our country will celebrate Women’s Veterans Day.

It’s a day filled with honour, but for a group of women, it has taken decades to be officially recognized and respected.

The history of female Air Force service pilots, or “WASPS”, begins in the early 1940s.

It was a program born out of necessity and fueled by young female pilots from across the country who answered the call to duty during World War II.

With so many men gone to war, women who already knew how to fly were called up for military service in the country.

Shirley Chase Kruse learned to fly when she was 18, but joined the Air Force when she was 20.

“We’ve all flown for our own enjoyment before, and now we’re in military training and all the rules and regulations, and it was a lot to contend with,” Kruse said.

It was a time when women did not enjoy the same benefits or privileges as military men.

In fact, the WASPS were considered civilians, even though they carried out military missions in the country and were trained like the men who were at war.

“Then to be disabled with nothing but paying for your own return trip, and that was kind of a sense of disappointment because I thought the government never did what they told us that he was going to do,” Kruse said.

Their official veteran status was not granted until 1977, after decades of struggle to obtain it.

“It was the happiest day…we called each other and it was almost unbelievable, because we waited so long,” Kruse said.

Today, stories like Kruse’s are on vibrant and vivid display at Texas Women’s University in Denton.

Katherine Sharp Landdeck is a teacher and author who has dedicated her work to ensuring WASPS are never forgotten again.

“I think it’s important to remember WASP and remember the work they did in the war because it really shows that women can do these things, women can fly these planes, women can be pilots,” Landdeck said.

“It’s a group of women that has been forgotten for decades,” Landdeck said. “From the 1940s through the 70s and 80s, they decided they didn’t want to be forgotten.”

As for this seasoned pilot, she wants all women to know that the door to aviation is open to them.

“They don’t need to get into piloting,” Kruse said. “There are so many phases of flight, and there are so many opportunities today for them, and I’ve encouraged a few of my time to do that. So it’s a feather in the head. ”

“I wouldn’t have changed it for the world…it’s something I always remembered, my military training,” Kruse said.

Kruse turns 100 this month and still enjoys talking about his service to this country.

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