SWEETWATER, Texas – Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs,these women are little known heroes of WWII. Their duties; ferry newly built trainer aircraft to flight schools in the south, tow gunnery targets, transport equipment to nonflying military personnel, and flight test recently repaired aircraft before male pilots were allowed to fly them.

While their tasks were crucial to continue successful war efforts, the pilots themselves have been mostly under the radar, until one WASP stepped in.

“It was proposed by a wasp named Deanie Parrish and her daughter, Nancy Parrish. It was really a grassroots effort that was started financially and a huge labor of love for the City of Sweetwater it was completely homegrowns,” Lisa Taylor, Executive Director of the WASP Museum said.

That proposal for the National WASP World War II Museum. But…why Sweetwater?

“It was so significant, so most of the WASPs trained here at avenger field. The first two classes started in Houston at Howard Hughes Airfield, but it was crowded airspace and not always the best weather. They didn’t have good living conditions. So, this airfield became available. The royal air force was actually out here being trained, and they were going to be leaving and so Jacquie Cochran saw this great opportunity to bring the ladies out and it became America’s all female all through military training base which means they received their primary, basic, and advanced in one place. And then from here once they received their wings they were assigned to duty bases all over the country but it started here,” Taylor said.

For more than a decade the WASP museum has worked diligently to tell their visitors about these courageous women, not only telling their stories but brining them to life and honoring their contributions that were pivotal to our country’s history.

“So all together there was 1,102; 25,000 women applied, 1,830 were accepted out of that 1,045 graduated under the WASP umbrella so to speak but 40 percent washout rate with was the same as the male washout rate,” Taylor said.

These women proved time and time again, that they were qualified to not only perform their duties…but excel…even gaining attention, and respect, from the top military leaders at the time.

“Gen. Hap Arnold, he was the Army Air Corps general, it gave him confidence because he could see their training tracked with the male training. In his words they flew wing tip to wing tip with their brothers,” Taylor said.

Fast forward to this year, the 80th anniversary of WWII, the WASPs not only have a place to call their own, their actions have inspired women from all walks of life who share the same passion and live by the same motto: We live in the wind and the sand…and our eyes are on the stars.