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March 23, 2022
Behind the Scenes: Women in WWII

Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is currently collecting items to develop a WAC, WAVES, WASPS exhibit, dedicated to the women who volunteered for service in WWII.

Beginning with the story of Cornelia Fort on December 7, 1941, this exhibit will share the experiences and stories of the hundreds of thousands of women who volunteered for service in the Women’s Army Corps, U.S. Navy Volunteer Emergency Service, Women Airforce Service Pilots, U.S. Coast Guard Women’s Reserves, U.S. Marine Corps, and the Navy and Army Nurse Corps.

In Honor of Women’s History month, today’s blog features a behind the scenes look at some of the donations we have received for use in this inspiring and exciting display

Behind the Scenes
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The soon-to-arrive WAC, WAVES, WASPS exhibit will feature hands-on activities, oral history videos, and artifacts.

Current donations to the WAC, WAVES, WASPS includes a World War II WAVES uniform, a WWII winter WAC uniform, personal photographs belonging to WAVES and WACS, and a replica WASP bomber, which features the Gremlin patch Fifinella.

World War II Era winter WAC uniform & Athena Medal

Our donated World War II winter WAC uniform was owned by Ruth Botts. Her name can still be seen sewn into the skirt of the uniform. A unique and special addition to this donation was the inclusion of the owner’s Athena Medal.

The Athena Medal, or The Women’s Army Corps Service Medal, was created in 1943 by an Executive Order issued by President Roosevelt. Until the creation of this medal, women in the Army Corp were not eligible to receive any service medals.

The Athena Medal, featuring Athena, Goddess of War, in her helmet was used to recognize exceptional service of women in the Army during the Second World War.

Replica WASP Bomber Jacket Featuring Fifinella
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The exhibit will also feature a replica Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) bomber jacket. The jacket displays an official WASP mascot, Fifinella the Gremlin, on its patch.

Fifinella is a female gremlin originally created by Walt Disney for use in a film. During World War II Disney turned the rights over to the Women Airforce Service Pilots for use as their official mascot. This was not uncommon for Disney, which created roughly 1,300 insignias for the U.S. military for unit patches and aircraft nose art, including the nose art for the Museum’s B-17 Swamp Ghost and the Ruptured Duck art on our B-25B Mitchell.

Throughout World War II there were only approximately 1,100 women trained as pilots for the WASPS, so the Museum’s curatorial and collections team is always on the lookout for authentic and historic WASP pieces to display. Let us know if you have any WASP stories or artifacts you are willing to donate to the Museum.

Personal Images from WAVES & WACS
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Personal images from women in the WAVES & WACS, gives visitors a look into the lives of the women who volunteered for service during World War II through their own memories.

The image on the right is included in an album, and features the owner on duty, in WAC barracks, during leisure time, and with fellow servicewomen.

Cornelia Fort: Making History on more than one occasion
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Along with stories and artifacts about all women who volunteered for service, this exhibit will highlight Cornelia Fort, her courage, and the Pearl Harbor battlefield story.

Cornelia was one of the civilian pilots in the air, along with her student pilot, on the morning of December 7th, 1941. Her plane was strafed by a Japanese Zero. Cornelia was able to safely land her plane at John Rogers Airport and seek shelter during the attack.

The following year, 1942, Cornelia became the second women to join military service in the newly established Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, a precursor to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), which was established in 1943.

We are still looking for donations to share Cornelia Fort’s Pearl Harbor and military service stories in our new WAC, WAVES, WASPS on America’s WWII Aviation Battlefield.


We are still accepting any donations for this future exhibit, as well as any personal stories about the amazing women who served.

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