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towed behind her plane aerial tar- gets that were used as part of live- fire training exercises. Thirty-eight WASPs died while serving our country. When the group disbanded in 1944, deMoss and the other “fly girls” paid for their own transportation home. For years, their contributions to the country in war- time were overlooked. It wasn’t until 1977, when Congress finally voted to give WASPs veterans’ status, that these trailblazers got the recognition they deserved. More than 30 years after receiv-

ing veterans’ status for their efforts during World War II, the WASPs once again were recognized March 10, 2010, when they were presented with a Congressional Gold Medal — the highest award Congress can bestow upon a civilian. DeMoss attended the ceremony on Capi- tol Hill with her husband, Cmdr. Charles deMoss, USN-Ret., also of the Riverside March Field Chapter. At the ceremony and during the medal presentation, escorts were on hand to assist the surviving WASPs, who now are in their late 80s or early 90s. “All of the WASPs are very, very

patriotic,” says deMoss. “They all stood at attention [during the medal presentation ceremony], even the ones who could barely stand up. Some of the escorts had to help hold them up, and they placed their hand over their heart and began singing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ That got to me.”

Presentation of a congressional medal

In July 2009, President Obama signed into law a bill authorizing the presentation of a single Con- gressional Gold Medal to the group

of surviving WASPs. Though the group comprises several survivors, it is customary to hand out only one medal. But money wasn’t allocated to cover the cost of the replica med- als that were given to each WASP or her surviving fam- ily members after the ceremony; instead the surviving WASPs had to purchase bronze replicas of the medal. Wings Across Amer-

ica, a Waco, Texas, organization that is dedicated to document- ing and preserving the history of the WASP, launched a grassroots fundraising effort to cover the cost of pro- ducing replica med- als, as well as travel expenses to the ceremony. Wings Across America consists of just two volunteers — Director Nancy Parrish and WASP and Assistant Director Deanie Parrish. In late January 2010, the Parrishes learned the Congressional Gold Medal pre- sentation was slated for March 10, which gave them only five weeks to raise the funds they needed.

Texas Chapter president. “Nobody and no organization is likely to con- tribute to a group unless they can take a tax deduction.” Ker, who also works as an attor-

The Heart of Texas Chapter has received enough money to cover the costs of replica medals.

ney, looked into the rules regard- ing tax deductions and determined the Heart of Texas Chapter could act as a clearing- house for donations, which would be tax- deductible because the chapter is a 501(c)(19) nonprofit organization. Rafuse then set up a separate bank account to collect donations for the WASPs. Mean- while, Susan Davis International in Wash- ington, D.C., launched a viral marketing cam-

paign to drive donors to a website Nancy Parrish established at www .flygirls.org. To date, the Heart of Texas Chapter has received $36,400 in donations — enough to cover the costs of the replica medals for all surviving WASPs. “We just wanted to help these la-

Attracting donors to purchase replicas

Weeks earlier, members of MOAA’s Heart of Texas Chapter had invited the Parrishes to speak at their regu- lar chapter meeting. When Lt. Col. Harold Rafuse, USAF-Ret., a member of the chapter’s board of directors, learned about the fundraising effort, he reached out and asked if the chap- ter could help. “They needed a mechanism in

which to generate some funds,” says Col. Jon Ker, USAR-Ret., Heart of

dies,” says Rafuse, who attended the presentation ceremony on Capitol Hill. “It took a long time for them to get veterans’ recognition and the medal they deserved.” Back in California, deMoss now is

responding to speaking requests and well-wishers who want to see her Congressional Gold Medal in per- son. Recently, she spoke at Women in Aviation Day at March Field Air Museum in California. “All of the wonderful lady pilots

of today were there,” says deMoss. “They all said, ‘Margo, we couldn’t have done it without you. You broke the glass ceiling.’ ”

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