[111th Congress Public Law 40]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]

[[Page 1957]]


[[Page 123 STAT. 1958]]

Public Law 111-40
111th Congress

                                 An Act

To award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots 
             (``WASP''). <<NOTE: July 1, 2009 -  [S. 614]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. <<NOTE: 31 USC 5111 note.>>  FINDINGS.

    Congress finds that--
            (1) the Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII, known as the 
        ``WASP'', were the first women in history to fly American 
        military aircraft;
            (2) more than 60 years ago, they flew fighter, bomber, 
        transport, and training aircraft in defense of America's 
            (3) they faced overwhelming cultural and gender bias against 
        women in nontraditional roles and overcame multiple injustices 
        and inequities in order to serve their country;
            (4) through their actions, the WASP eventually were the 
        catalyst for revolutionary reform in the integration of women 
        pilots into the Armed Services;
            (5) during the early months of World War II, there was a 
        severe shortage of combat pilots;
            (6) Jacqueline Cochran, America's leading woman pilot of the 
        time, convinced General Hap Arnold, Chief of the Army Air 
        Forces, that women, if given the same training as men, would be 
        equally capable of flying military aircraft and could then take 
        over some of the stateside military flying jobs, thereby 
        releasing hundreds of male pilots for combat duty;
            (7) the severe loss of male combat pilots made the necessity 
        of utilizing women pilots to help in the war effort clear to 
        General Arnold, and a women's pilot training program was soon 
            (8) it was not until August 1943, that the women aviators 
        would receive their official name;
            (9) General Arnold ordered that all women pilots flying 
        military aircraft, including 28 civilian women ferry pilots, 
        would be named ``WASP'', Women Airforce Service Pilots;
            (10) more than 25,000 American women applied for training, 
        but only 1,830 were accepted and took the oath;
            (11) exactly 1,074 of those trainees successfully completed 
        the 21 to 27 weeks of Army Air Forces flight training, 
        graduated, and received their Army Air Forces orders to report 
        to their assigned air base;
            (12) on November 16, 1942, the first class of 29 women 
        pilots reported to the Houston, Texas Municipal Airport and

[[Page 123 STAT. 1959]]

        began the same military flight training as the male Army Air 
        Forces cadets were taking;
            (13) due to a lack of adequate facilities at the airport, 3 
        months later the training program was moved to Avenger Field in 
        Sweetwater, Texas;
            (14) WASP were eventually stationed at 120 Army air bases 
        all across America;
            (15) they flew more than 60,000,000 miles for their country 
        in every type of aircraft and on every type of assignment flown 
        by the male Army Air Forces pilots, except combat;
            (16) WASP assignments included test piloting, instructor 
        piloting, towing targets for air-to-air gunnery practice, 
        ground-to-air anti-aircraft practice, ferrying, transporting 
        personnel and cargo (including parts for the atomic bomb), 
        simulated strafing, smoke laying, night tracking, and flying 
            (17) in October 1943, male pilots were refusing to fly the 
        B-26 Martin Marauder (known as the ``Widowmaker'') because of 
        its fatality records, and General Arnold ordered WASP Director, 
        Jacqueline Cochran, to select 25 WASP to be trained to fly the 
        B-26 to prove to the male pilots that it was safe to fly;
            (18) during the existence of the WASP--
                    (A) 38 women lost their lives while serving their 
                    (B) their bodies were sent home in poorly crafted 
                pine boxes;
                    (C) their burial was at the expense of their 
                families or classmates;
                    (D) there were no gold stars allowed in their 
                parents' windows; and
                    (E) because they were not considered military, no 
                American flags were allowed on their coffins;
            (19) in 1944, General Arnold made a personal request to 
        Congress to militarize the WASP, and it was denied;
            (20) on December 7, 1944, in a speech to the last graduating 
        class of WASP, General Arnold said, ``You and more than 900 of 
        your sisters have shown you can fly wingtip to wingtip with your 
        brothers. I salute you . . . We of the Army Air Force are proud 
        of you. We will never forget our debt to you.'';
            (21) with victory in WWII almost certain, on December 20, 
        1944, the WASP were quietly and unceremoniously disbanded;
            (22) there were no honors, no benefits, and very few ``thank 
            (23) just as they had paid their own way to enter training, 
        they had to pay their own way back home after their honorable 
        service to the military;
            (24) the WASP military records were immediately sealed, 
        stamped ``classified'' or ``secret'', and filed away in 
        Government archives, unavailable to the historians who wrote the 
        history of WWII or the scholars who compiled the history text 
        books used today, with many of the records not declassified 
        until the 1980s;
            (25) consequently, the WASP story is a missing chapter in 
        the history of the Air Force, the history of aviation, and the 
        history of the United States of America;

[[Page 123 STAT. 1960]]

            (26) in 1977, 33 years after the WASP were disbanded, the 
        Congress finally voted to give the WASP the veteran status they 
        had earned, but these heroic pilots were not invited to the 
        signing ceremony at the White House, and it was not until 7 
        years later that their medals were delivered in the mail in 
        plain brown envelopes;
            (27) in the late 1970s, more than 30 years after the WASP 
        flew in World War II, women were finally permitted to attend 
        military pilot training in the United States Armed Forces;
            (28) thousands of women aviators flying support aircraft 
        have benefitted from the service of the WASP and followed in 
        their footsteps;
            (29) in 1993, the WASP were once again referenced during 
        congressional hearings regarding the contributions that women 
        could make to the military, which eventually led to women being 
        able to fly military fighter, bomber, and attack aircraft in 
            (30) hundreds of United States servicewomen combat pilots 
        have seized the opportunity to fly fighter aircraft in recent 
        conflicts, all thanks to the pioneering steps taken by the WASP;
            (31) the WASP have maintained a tight-knit community, forged 
        by the common experiences of serving their country during war;
            (32) as part of their desire to educate America on the WASP 
        history, WASP have assisted ``Wings Across America'', an 
        organization dedicated to educating the American public, with 
        much effort aimed at children, about the remarkable 
        accomplishments of these WWII veterans; and
            (33) the WASP have been honored with exhibits at numerous 
        museums, to include--
                    (A) the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC;
                    (B) the Women in Military Service to America 
                Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, 
                    (C) the National Museum of the United States Air 
                Force, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio;
                    (D) the National WASP WWII Museum, Sweetwater, 
                    (E) the 8th Air Force Museum, Savannah, Georgia;
                    (F) the Lone Star Flight Museum, Galveston, Texas;
                    (G) the American Airpower Museum, Farmingdale, New 
                    (H) the Pima Air Museum, Tucson, Arizona;
                    (I) the Seattle Museum of Flight, Seattle, 
                    (J) the March Air Museum, March Reserve Air Base, 
                California; and
                    (K) the Texas State History Museum, Austin, Texas.

    (a) Award Authorized.--The President pro tempore of the Senate and 
the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall make appropriate 
arrangements for the award, on behalf of the Congress, of a single gold 
medal of appropriate design in honor of the Women Airforce Service 
Pilots (WASP) collectively, in recognition of their pioneering military 
service and exemplary record, which forged revolutionary reform in the 
Armed Forces of the United States of America.

[[Page 123 STAT. 1961]]

    (b) Design and Striking.--For the purposes of the award referred to 
in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury shall strike the gold 
medal with suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be determined 
by the Secretary.
    (c) Smithsonian Institution.--
            (1) In general.--Following the award of the gold medal in 
        honor of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, the gold medal shall 
        be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it will be 
        displayed as appropriate and made available for research.
            (2) Sense of the congress.--It is the sense of the Congress 
        that the Smithsonian Institution shall make the gold medal 
        received under this Act available for display elsewhere, 
        particularly at other locations associated with the WASP.

    Under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, the Secretary 
may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold medal struck under 
this Act, at a price sufficient to cover the costs of the medals, 
including labor, materials, dyes, use of machinery, and overhead 

    Medals struck pursuant to this Act are national medals for purposes 
of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.

    (a) Authorization of Appropriations.--There is authorized to be 
charged against the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund, an amount 
not to exceed $30,000 to pay for the cost of the medal authorized under 
section 2.
    (b) Proceeds of Sale.--Amounts received from the sale of duplicate 
bronze medals under section 3 shall be deposited in the United States 
Mint Public Enterprise Fund.

    Approved July 1, 2009.


            May 20, considered and passed Senate.
            June 16, considered and passed House.