WASP program leaders Jacqueline Cochran and General Henry “Hap” Arnold were amongst those who lobbied for the militarization of the WASP. Bills that would accomplish this were put before Congress, but were shot down due to strong opposition. The rejection of official military recognition and benefits coincided with an increase of male pilots available for domestic service. Therefore, the WASP program was discontinued with no military honors granted to the women pilots. They went back to their former lives, continued flying at a noncommercial airline, or became airline stewardesses.
The former WASPs lost touch for a while, but finally began having reunions in the 1960s. Although the desire for military status never disappeared from the aviatrixes’ minds, they did not act until a statement by the Air Force in 1976 sent them back to Congress’s doorstep. It was that year the Air Force began accepting women, but made the claim that it was the first time they had let female pilots fry military aircrafts.
After the WASPs realized that they were being left out of the history of the country they served, they fought and lobbied for their deserved recognition. They convinced General Arnold’s son, Bruce and Senator Barry Goldwater to help in their campaign. Finally, thirty-three years after the WASPs were dismissed from their Army Air Bases, President Jimmy Carter signed the bill that gave the WASP military recognition.
Two years later, in 1979 the WASP also received veteran’s status. The WASP designated Texas Women’s University in Denton as their official archives in 1992. Finally, in 2002 the surviving WASP, of which there were less than three hundred, and the families of the deceased received their Congressional Gold Metals.