Forgotten World War II heroines receive much deserved recognition - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Forgotten World War II heroines receive much deserved recognition

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE)- They flew non-combat missions during World War II, but 38 were killed in service. The Women Aviator Service Pilots, or "WASPS" were forgotten heroes for years.

Wednesday, they received long overdue recognition, as they were awarded the Congressional gold medal, the highest civilian honor given by Congress, in a ceremony on Capitol Hill.

One of these pioneers honored, is a Lufkin woman. Jacqueline Morgan is one of only 1,830 wasps to be honored with this medal.

B-17s, B-25s, A-T-6 planes, if it was a World War II fighter plane, Morgan flew it.

"It was a job and I had to do it," said Morgan.

As a Woman Air Force Service Pilot, she not only test flew planes, but six hours a day, six days a week, she drug targets through the air while being shot at by service men training to go overseas. During World War II, it was against the law for women to shoot a gun but not against the law to be shot at.

"I did get shot down once. I didn't fall. They didn't hit a cable, so I was able to land the airplane in an auxiliary field," said Morgan.

While most women stayed home to take care of their children, the WASPS were the first women in history to fly American military aircraft.

They were considered civilians, with records classified and sealed for 35 years. The WASPS weren't offered full military status until 1977. It's estimated, 300 of these heroes are still alive. Two-hundred attended the medal ceremony in Washington. Accepting the award on behalf of these brave pioneers, was WASP pilot Deanie Parrish.

"It was both a privilege and an honor to serve our country during some of the darkest days of World War II," said Parrish.

Jacqueline Morgan's son went to Washington to accept the medal on her behalf.

"It woke everybody's eyes up to the fact of what these women did for their country," said Ben Morgan, who says his mother inspired him to become a pilot. Morgan is now a pilot with Southwest Airlines.

Morgan's sons are proud their mother is finally receiving long deserved recognition.

"It opened up a lot of barriers for women," said her son, Havey Morgan.

At the age of 90, Jacqueline Morgan recalls a time when she served her country proudly. After years of remaining a forgotten hero, Morgan now has the highest honor to show for it, so she can continue to pave the way for other brave freedom fighters.

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