by Elin M. Raimondi
“My mom was probably one of the most intelligent women I've ever known. She was studying engineering at USC when she joined the WASP. Even then, she was ahead of her time. When she joined the WASP, it was because she wanted to do what was best for the war effort, and she wanted to learn to fly. She always said that flying gave her a sense of freedom that she could get nowhere else. She ferried planes and towed targets while in the program. She said it was an honor to do this, it made her feel like an important part of the military cause.
When the WASP were disbanded, she went home and never got in the cockpit again. She also didn't talk much about this time in her life until after she gained veteran status.
My parents met while mom was flying a plane from Texas to California. My father worked for Hughes Corporation at the time and needed a ride back to LA. They were married in Pasadena after she went back to civilian life. Later they moved to Rushford, NY And that's where they stayed for the rest of their lives. They raised four children and she taught English for over 30 years. She began speaking to others about the WASP after 1990. I will never forget people asking for her autograph and to have their photo taken with her.
She always told me to keep things simple and always encouraged us to strive for the best. It was actually my father who told us first about her and her flying. True of the greatest generation, it was just 'pull up the boot straps' and keep on going. Because of this amazing group of women, the WASP, the women aviators of today have literally reached for and touched the stars.
I'm proud to be her daughter and namesake. Mom got her angel wings in 1996 and sadly, she wasn't with us to celebrate the Congressional Gold Medal Awards but I know she would have loved every minute of it. One of her granddaughters is getting married this September and she's planning on having her grandmother's wings pinned somewhere on her wedding outfit."