SWEETWATER - I had the privilege to visit the National WASP WWII (Women Airforce Service Pilots) Museum in Sweetwater a few weeks ago. What a wonderful, historic adventure. I knew little about the WASPs before I went. I was enlightened to the dedication of these brave women.

SWEETWATER - I had the privilege to visit the National WASP WWII (Women Airforce Service Pilots) Museum in Sweetwater a few weeks ago. What a wonderful, historic adventure. I knew little about the WASPs before I went. I was enlightened to the dedication of these brave women.

When they volunteered, they had to already have a pilot license. They traveled to training on their own money, they paid for their own housing, food and uniforms. They received no military stars or military burials. When one of them died, it was up to the fellow WASPs and their families to pay for their comrade’s body to be shipped home and buried. They were paid as employees of the Civil Air Patrol at a salary much lower than military pilots.

The historic flight of the Enola Gay may never have happened had it not been for the WASPs. The first B-29s had lots of flaws and some male pilots refused to fly them. Lt. Col. Paul W. Tibbets decided he would train women to fly them to persuade male pilots to fly the behemoth. It worked and the rest is history. There were 1,102 of the brave women pilots, of which 38 died in service to our country.

What surprised me the most about the museum was its condition. In fact, the air conditioning. There was none, it was well over 100 degrees that day. This museum was in a huge hanger. All of the historic documents and artifacts were at the mercy of weather conditions. They have a new building, however, it is a shell and no money to finish the inside. What a tragedy this is. I felt as though my country had let these women down during the war, and it is still letting them down today.

I met some members of the board of directors, Sandra Spears, who is the president of the board and her husband, Dick Spears. They were wonderful people and told us much of the history of the WASPs.

Sandra Edwards Spears is a native of Sweetwater. Her father, Rigdon Edwards, was a primary instructor for the WASPs at Avenger Field. Because of that connection, she became interested in the WASP Museum from the beginning in 2002. She was a founder and has been an active part of the National WASP WWII Museum. They have exhausted all the grants and donations and cannot finish the new museum to move in and preserve the WASP history.

What I am asking for today is that everyone who reads this will send a donation. It doesn’t have to be much, I realize today, it is hard to give to all the organizations that ask for money. Please realize, this is our history, and needs to be preserved and protected. If you have not been to the museum, you should plan a trip there, it is really wonderful. The board of directors has worked hard to get to the point they are, but need our support to finish this museum. You can give me your donation to forward or send your donation to the National WASP WWII Museum, ATTN: Advancement, 210 Avenger Field Road, Sweetwater, TX 79556.