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).
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
- 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.
- 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.
- The first WAFs wore men’s uniforms with neckties, but in short time Geraldine Pratt May ordered women’s uniforms
- 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.