During World War II, one thousand seventy-four aviators, all with prior experience and airman certificates, flew over 60 million miles; transported every type of military aircraft; towed targets for live anti-aircraft gun practice; simulated strafing missions and transported cargo. Thirty-eight members of this elite group lost their lives and one went missing in performing their duties.  But it wasn’t until 1977 that they were granted veteran status, and in 2009 awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Obama.1 Why did it take so long for them to be recognized?  In her presentation at the Suburban Woman’s Club April 5th meeting, Carol Simon Levin said that Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs as they came to be known, freed male pilots for combat missions and other duties, but weren’t accorded the same military status or benefits because of their gender.

Carol Simon Levin is a Youth Services Librarian, author, and story teller extraordinaire.  In a fascinating lecture, Ms. Levin “impersonated” Ann Baumgartner, who, born in 1918, was a Plainfield resident, an American aviator and the first woman pilot to fly an experimental Air Force jet, the Bell YP-59A.  In her impersonation, Ms. Levin recounted the complex story of women aviators and their struggle to advance their mission to serve their country as Air Force pilots during the second world war.  These were women who were great patriots, as brave as anyone could be, who willingly risked their lives for their country but weren’t given the same military position as male pilots. Although their bravery and skill were acknowledged by their male colleagues and superior officers, the Air Force ended the WASP program in 1944.  

Prior to this wonderful talk, President Diana Cotone called the April 5th meeting to order.  She thanked Jane Rundella and Kathy Wozniak for the delicious refreshments provided for the meeting.  Legislation Chair Wozniak reported that N.J. Assembly Bill A3398, which requires pesticide applicators to notify beekeepers when applying pesticide within three miles of registered honey or native beehives, was passed into law.  The Club had encouraged state legislators to pass this bill to protect the declining bee populations which are essential to pollinating fields, orchards, and gardens.  On the education side, Chair Debbie Boyle reviewed the N.J State Federation of Women’s Club’s Spelling Bee as well as the essay contest on Amelia Earhart sponsored by Suburban Woman’s Club and South Plainfield Women’s Leadership Team Committee.  For the Club’s upcoming fundraising event, VP Jane Rundella reviewed preparations for the annual Luncheon/Fashion Show to be held on April 22nd.  In addition, President Cotone discussed the Club’s support of charitable organizations.  Members agreed to donate 176 dehydrated meals to Rise Against Hunger as well as to plant a pinwheel garden at the So. Plainfield Library to support Prevent Child Abuse-NJ.  The Club also held an election for officers for the 2018-2019 year. 

The Suburban Woman’s Club of South Plainfield is a member of the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs of GFWC.  In addition to fundraising to award scholarships and support local charities, the Club offers its members programs on a wide variety of topics designed to instruct and entertain at each of our monthly meetings.  Interested in joining?  Any woman of South Plainfield or the surrounding area is very welcome to become a member!  Membership dues are $35 per year. Meetings are first Thursday of the month at 1:00 p.m.  To learn more, please contact Membership Chair Grace Bertucci at 732-549-9633 or suburbanwomansclubsp@gmail.com.  Like us on Facebook!

 

  1. Wikipedia, Women Airforce Service Pilots