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Jul 09 2009

Long Overdue Recognition – Congratulations!

On Wednesday, July 1, President Obama signed bill S.614 to award the Congressional Medal of Honeor to the WASP.  This is long overdue recognition of their service to our country and well deserved.  Congratulations ladies!  Bee Haydu was there for the signing along with Elaine Danforth Harmon, Lorraine H. Rodgers and current Air Force pilots.

It is likely that the official cermony will not happen for another several months since they have to make the actal medal!

Click here to see photos.

It was only the day before (on Tuesday) that Bee Haydu returned to Keystone Heights Airpark after participating (as a passenger) in the Women’s Air Race Classic to help raise awareness for the WASP and funds for the Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum’s WASP History Center.

You can’t get much more timely than that!


2 responses so far

May 05 2009

In Memory of Cindy (Jes)

This post is dedicated to our friend, Cindy Jes Wiesner.  Not only was she a daughter of a WASP, she was so enthusiastic about it we caught the excitement as if we were daughters of WASP ourselves.  In fact, I often find myself wishing that I was related somehow… :-) .

Susan and Cindy came up with this mission to fly the WASP from Alliance airport to Avenger Field and the second Susan asked me to help, I jumped in with all hands on deck!   During the preparation of this mission, I had the privilege of getting to know a most wonderful, sweet and caring woman.  A woman who began to teach me about what the WASP meant to this country, who they were and how important it is that we carry that education and awareness forward for many, many years to come.

Sadly, Jes (Cindy) recently lost her battle with cancer so in her honor, Susan King and Bob Oehl of the Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum have decided to dedicate an entire wing in her and her mother’s honor.  If you came to this site to make a donation (as she requested in lieu of flowers), you may click the link below OR click on her page to the left and follow the steps.  All proceeds benefit the Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum.

As a FOW (Friend of the WASP), I am grateful to have know her even for the short time that it was.  She gave me a mission I will never stop carrying forward and I am forever blessed by her spirit.

~ Lisa

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Mar 30 2009

And the comments keep coming!

Just a brief follow-up.  I will be keeping this site, Operation Fifinella, running until the end of time.

I love these women and everything they represent (esp. as a woman myself).  Their courage, determination and strength are a real inspiration.  I am honored to have met so many of these women in person, spent time with and even be “adopted” by a group of them (Helen Snapp, Bee Haydu, Barry Smith, Fran Sargent, Betty Blake, Penny Halberg and Ruth Fleisher).

I am encouraged to see relatives, friends, and other awe-inspired people contine to comment on the site.  Please keep the comments coming and check back on the individual WASP pages for those comments!  I hope that we all can continue to spread the word about their effort in the War and how they helped open doors for women to become pilots.

May God bless them all!

… And if anyone has any stories they would like to share about the WASP, friend or family, I would love to add them to the site.

Lisa

One response so far

Sep 27 2008

WASP receive local and national attention!

In case you haven’t heard – Operation Fifinella and
the WASP have received both
local and national attention! 
Here’s just few of the articles and news clips…Enjoy!

Ft. Worth Star Telegram

CBS – Ft. Worth

CNN

Big Country – KTAB News

Dyess Air Force Base

Sweetwater Reporter


3 responses so far

Sep 25 2008

Mission Accomplished!

Just before 8 am this morning, September 25th, 2008 – 42 WASP and their escorts arrived at Alliance Airport….eager, excited, and happy to be going back!

After unloading from the buses, everyone found their airplanes and got all set to go up in the air. Each WASP had an escort or 2 with them. I had the pleasure and honor of spending the day with Ms. Ruth Guhse (44-10) as her escort … what a privelege to get to know these women on a personal level.

The airplanes were timed to go up one at a time at one minute intervals, with the slower planes first, followed by the faster planes (B-25 & DC-3). What a ride!! =)

All that could be seen upon arrival at Avenger Field were grins and for the organizers, that was the biggest reward – that these women were happy!

Everyone gradually made their way over to visit the wishing well and then headed over to Hangar One – The National WASP WWII Museum where there was lunch set up in their honor. The surprise of the afternoon was the fly over of the B1 – right over our heads! After lunch was the recognition of the pilots, sponsors, and donors, followed by a presentation put together by the Dyess Air Force officers. This was followed by a wing exchanging between the WASP and the Dyess Air Force group, in which each WASP received Air Force wings and each Air Force member received WASP wings- a kind of passing down of the legacy of women pilots.

After the group photo, it was time to load the shuttles and head back to the planes to return to Alliance. Ruth and I came over on the B-25 and rode back on the DC-3 – both were totally awesome and amazing trips. The AT-6s flew formation on the way back to Alliance which afforded Cindy Weisner and her mother, Sylvia Burrill the once in a lifetime opportunity to fly in formation together – mother & daughter!

Again – from the time we left the hotel to the moment we returned, there were grins from ear to ear. Some of the comments overheard were “I just can’t believe they did this all for us”… “they went to so much trouble and expense… for us!”…”this was so unbelievable and amazing”

In our opinion, after the 30+ years of the WASP not being recognized, they need and deserve all the recognition that they can get, along with todays service men and women – after all, they were back then and continue to be the ones that protect this beautiful country we live in.

On a final note – if you’re a WASP, KOW, FOW – PLEASE post your comments about the event! We want to here the reactions — all of them! This web site is going to be a living documentation of Operation Fifinella and will continue to stay up until….forever! =)

Thank you for the best day of our lives!

Lisa

4 responses so far

Sep 25 2008

T minus 8 hours and counting

We arrived in Dallas, Texas on Tuesday to finish preparation for Operation Fifinella. We (Lana, Susan, and I) headed out early Wednesday morning to fly from Alliance airport to Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. The mission – to get everything ready for the WASP arrival on the 25th. We spent the day with Marianne, who runs the WASP museum at Avenger and Major McNama, Pilot of the 7th Bomb Wing (B-1) – and at the end of the afternoon the museum was ready to host the expected crowd of about 200. With that behind us, we headed back to Alliance, piloted by Lana and then back to the hotel for final preparations, including the WASP debriefing.

At 8:15 Thursday September 25th there will be a historic flight to Avenger field with 32 aircraft and 41 WASP! We are all very excited – especially the WASP! And these women deserve this – they are incredible and an inspiration to women both young and old.

A huge thank you to everyone who has helped pull this together to make this a very special event, especially Susan, Lana, Cindy, Chuck, Marianne, and Major McNamara!

Lisa


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Aug 29 2008

37 WASP and counting!!!

To all WASP and Volunteer Pilots:

We are finishing up the WASP/aircraft assignments today. This information will be mailed to the WASP no later than Saturday.

We would like to thank Lana Kraeszig for spearheading the pilot recruitment efforts. She has done an incredible job and we give her a BIG THANKS for helping make Operation Fifinella “fly” … pun intended! 

A BIG THANKS to all the volunteer pilots who have come forward to make this ”historic flight” possible. Lana will be in touch with all the pilots regarding WASP/aircraft assignments and continued flight briefings. More information on this will be posted on the website next week.

Also, so important to making Operation Fifinella possible – our SPONSORS and DONORS! Although we continue to update our Sponsor and Donor list, I want to recognize these individuals, organizations and companies again.

OUR SPONSORS

- Lisa Renshaw, through her company Blu Dove Design, stepped forward at the beginning of our planning of Operation Fifinella to donate her services to design and host this beautiful website, design our advertising and become a committee member. She will be travelling to Texas to help us organize Operation Fifinella and attend the Reunion in Irving.

- Caroline Collings and the Collings Foundation (thanks Rob!) – The Collings Foundation has flown more than 50 WASP over the years in the “Wings of Freedom Tour” WWII bombers. Caroline, the only ”typed” female B-24 pilot in history, was the first to come forward with a very generous financial contribution from the Collings Foundation to help kick-start our efforts with Operation Fifinella. Due to scheduling conflicts (her best friend is getting married in Sweden), she is unable to participate in this flight, but she will be with us in spirit and sends her love to the WASP.

-Trade-a-Plane publisher, Carolyn Flick, – Carolyn donated 2 months of advertising in Trade-a-Plane, an internationally distributed aviation publication, to help us recruit pilots and raise awareness of WASP and Operation Fifinella. Much thanks also to Rachel C Hill, Display Advertising Manager, who has been our liaison and helped us with the advertising.
- Michael Potapow, Wings of Dreams Founding Director – Mike’s first “close encounter” with WASP was at the Wings of Freedom Tour that Wings of Dreams hosted at Keystone Heights Airport (Florida). He was one of the volunteer pilots who flew WASP Bee Haydu and Helen Snapp so they could attend our event. Through Mike’s contribution and fuel sponsorship we now have the 20-seat DC-3 to transport WASP, escorts and volunteers to Avenger Field. Thanks so much Mike!

-Pace Family - Mr. J. C. Pace Sr. has a close connection and historical link with the WASP and Avenger Field that dates back to 1940s, where he served as one of WASP instructors. Thanks to the entire Pace family for your support of the WASP and Operation Fifinella.

- National WASP WWII Museum and Museum Director Marianne Wood – Our host at Avenger Field! We are excited to have our luncheon, program and presentations at the museum. Thank you, Marianne and your board, for all your support and helping us bring our WASP “home” again.

Thank you Donors! Your financial assistance is helping us make this happen!

Parker Overton

Piper Aircraft (More to come on Piper Aircraft’s role in the “original Operation Fifinella” in the 1945)

Mary Jane & Raymond Finnegan

Helen Hall

Brian Bertke

Lindy Segall

We still need financial assistance through Sponsorships and Donations. Please click on our “Donate” link and help support Operation Fifinella!

Susan King, Co-organizer – Operation Fifinella

2 responses so far

Aug 13 2008

30 WASP!

We’re at 30 WASP participating in this event.  We’ve heard from many others who will not be able to make, but will be flying with us in spirit.  Everyone is so excited about how the event is coming together and we’ve received such a positive response from WASP, Kids of WASP, Friends, sponsors, pilots….We’re still accepting WASP so don’t let a little thing like a printed deadline stop you from signing up!

We would love to have you share your stories with us and what is so neat about this web site is that you can sign up and make comments right on the site.  So if you see a story you want to comment on or if you are a WASP that has signed up and would like to add something to you page, go to your page and click “Please comment on this post” and it will prompt you to log in.  By commenting on the site to various things, it will really bring this event to life in a truly unique way.

OR if you’re not so sure about that – then just email us your comments and where you would like them to: webmaster@operationfifinella.org and we will be happy to put them up for you.



One response so far

Jul 30 2008

It gets better and better!

What an exciting time!

We now have 26 WASP, we’ve added 2 more since the last post and 1 had to back out due to health reasons…I’m she will be flying with us in spirit!

We’ve also added several more pilots and planes, including a DC3 and a B25!  We also have (unconfirmed) the possibility of several T-6 Texans – one of the favorites to fly by many of the WASP.  So (without the T-6’s) that gives us a total of 18 pilots and planes.  We’ll keep you posted as we confirm additional pilots and planes.

We still need sponsors and donors!  We invite anyone who loves these women like we do, to help us bring this event into being.  If you would like to donate, you can now do so online.  Just go to our donate page!  No matter what the size of your donation, every little bit helps!  And if you are business or organization and would like to sponsor the event, please contact us for more information!

Stay tuned for more updates coming weekly, if not daily!  And please take the time to register on this site to stay up to date on what’s happening.

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Jul 22 2008

25 and counting! Deadline Extended!

The response has been overwhelming so we have extended the deadline! We have 25 WASP signed up and ready to fly on this exciting mission! We also have 10 pilots who have volunteered themselves and their planes to participate in this historic event – flying a WASP into Avenger field!

Each WASP who has signed up to participate has their very own personal page on this web site, complete with a brief biography and photos.

If you are a WASP and see your page with nothing posted, it means we don’t have information or have not found it yet. If there is information or photos you would like to include, please send it to us at webmaster@operationfifinella.org and we will do our best to get the information posted as fast as humanly possible. Biography information can simply be typed into a Word document or into an email. Images need to be digital (if you need help, let us know) – we would love both past and present photos if possible.

Thank you to all the WASP for your service to this country and to those joining us on this mission both physically and in spirit. Thank you to the pilots, the volunteers, the sponsors and all of our supporters for helping to put this together. May Operation Fifinella be the best mission yet!

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