Armed Forces News

Survivors of female pilots who served in World War II are challenging Army Secretary John McHugh’s decision last year to make them ineligible for burial at Arlington National Cemetery. The Associated Press reported Jan. 4 that the family of now-deceased Elaine Harmon has started a petition to reverse McHugh’s bar on burial of WASPs (Women Air Force Service Pilots), who flew planes in non-combat missions. McHugh’s memo excluded both WASPs and those who served in the Merchant Marine. Harmon’s daughter, Terry Harmon, contends that WASP pilots were subject to the same regulations as their male counterparts. As such, she believes, they deserve equal access to Arlington. The cemetery, however, is rapidly reaching capacity. Burial eligibility has tightened considerably in recent years, particularly in light of the increase of combat deaths due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.