US Air Force accepts its first Female recruits (July 8, 1948) - History Key

US Air Force accepts its first Female recruits (July 8, 1948)

United States Armed Forces have three major components: US Army, US Navy and US Air Force. Today we will present you a specific program from the US Air Force that started on July 8, 1948: Women in the Air Force (WAF).

The first WAF squadron at Lackland AFB in 1948
The first WAF squadron at Lackland AFB in 1948 © Image Source: Wikipedia
Esther Blake, first woman in the United States Air Force
Esther Blake © Image Source: Wikipedia

US President Truman signed the Act which allowed women to enlist directly in the military and in the same year the US Air Force accepted the first women in their history. Esther Blake was the first female recruit to the WAF while the first commissioner of the WAF was Geraldine Pratt May (later on she became the first Air Force woman colonel).

 

5 Facts about Women in the Air Force

  • Women served in the Army when the US Air Force was officially formed in 1947, but they weren’t officially recognized as soldiers until WAF program was launched
A/2C Frances E. Courtney furnished the bugle calls of taps and reveille for the 3452nd Student Squadron (WAF) at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in 1953
A/2C Frances E. Courtney furnished the bugle calls of taps and reveille for the 3452nd Student Squadron (WAF) at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in 1953 © USAF – U.S. Air Force/Image Source: Wikipedia
  • In 1948 WAF was limited to 4,000 women and 300 female officers, but they weren’t trained as pilots. However, under wartime conditions in 1943 several women graduated the class of the United States Army Air Corps.
Frances Green, Margaret (Peg) Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn leaving their plane, "Pistol Packin' Mama," at the four-engine school at Lockbourne AAF, Ohio, during WASP ferry training B-17 Flying Fortress
Frances Green, Margaret (Peg) Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn leaving their plane, “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” at the four-engine school at Lockbourne AAF, Ohio, during WASP ferry training B-17 Flying Fortress © USAF – U.S. Air Force/Image Source: Wikipedia
  • Women, who were already pilots, were diverted to the Air Force Reserves. For example Nancy Harkness Love, a women pilot during WWII was awarded with the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Reserves in 1948.
Nancy Love at the controls of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Queen Bee"
Nancy Love at the controls of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress “Queen Bee” © USAF – U.S. Air Force/Image Source: Wikipedia
  • The first WAFs wore men’s uniforms with neckties, but in short time Geraldine Pratt May ordered women’s uniforms

    Air Force uniform variations through the years
    Air Force uniform variations through the years © USAF – af.mil/Image Source: Wikipedia

 

  • In its ten-year lifespan, the WAF Band was served by some 235 women musicians with approximately 50 members at any one time. The band members were required to be single and white.
The WAF Band poses at USAF Band School at Bolling AFB in Washington, DC
The WAF Band poses at USAF Band School at Bolling AFB in Washington, DC © USAF/Image Source: Wikipedia

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