Sarah Elizabeth Baily Williams – Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP)

From a letter to the Washington Post: July 2, 2002

A June 15 Metro article paid tribute to the many women pioneers who served their country as pilots during World War II.

Although Irene Englund was given military honors, she was not the first of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) inurned at Arlington National Cemetery with military honors. My mother, Sarah Elizabeth (Bailey) Williams, a WASP, was inurned, with military honors, at Arlington National Cemetery Columbarium in 1997.

Betty Bailey (as she was then known) was the first woman to complete flight training at West Virginia University and the only female in her class. She applied to the WASP program and in 1944 she received a telegram from General “Hap” Arnold accepting her into the program and ordering her to report to Avenger Field at Sweetwater, Texas.

On February 14, 1997, this wonderful woman was killed in a traffic accident. Arrangements were made for March 6 services at the Old Post Chapel at Fort Myer in Arlington. Mother received military honors: three volleys of rifle fire, the playing of Taps by a live bugler and the presentation of her country's flag to her husband of nearly 50 years.


Woodbridge, Virginia

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