Marjorie Ellfeldt Rees exits an aircraft in this undated family photograph. Rees is one of only 300 surviving WASPs, an acronym for female pilots in World War II. The Women Airforce Service Pilots took part in noncombat missions, such as ferrying aircraft from factories to military bases, thus freeing up more male pilots for combat roles. On March 10, these women, the first to fly US military planes, were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on Capitol Hill in Washington. Couresy of Rees/Kansas City Star/MCT/Newscom/FILE
June Bent of Westboro, Mass., holds a portrait of the late Doris Duncan Muise, a fellow-pilot and friend, while attending the ceremonies on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Lauren Victoria Burke/AP
This cover of 'Skyline' magazine, a publication that promoted the WASPs, is from 1943. Newscom/FILE
WASPs listen to speakers during a medal ceremony held in their honor on Wednesday. About 200 of these former pilots, most in their late 80s and early 90s, came to the Capitol to accept the Congressional Gold Medal. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
World War II pilot Deanie Parrish (3rd r.), of Waco, Texas, accepts the Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of the WASPs on Wednesday. Parrish is joined by (from left) Air Force Lt. Col. Nicole Malachowski, journalist Tom Brokaw, House minority leader John Boehner, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. J. Scott Applewhite/AP
WASP pilot Vivian Eddy climbs out of a King Cobra fighter plane in World War II. Newscom/FILE
Bee Haydu, aboard a BT-13, was part of the WASPs during World War II. Newscom/FILE
Beverly Beesemyer, of Beverly Hills, Calif., holds her Congressional Gold Medal following a presentation ceremony honoring the WASPs on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP
Former pilot Betty Berkstresser (l.) of Houston is given a proclamation by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D) of Texas (c.) after the WASPs were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on March 10, in Washington. At right is another former pilot, Barbara Heinrich, also of Houston. Lauren Victoria Burke/AP
The details of a WASP uniform are seen here as the group of female World War II pilots were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Famous WASP and pioneer aviator Jackie Cochran held more speed, altitude, and distance records than any other male or female pilot in aviation history at the time of her death in August 1980. Cochran was the director of WASP and was the only woman to compete in the Bendix Transcontinental Race in 1937, after working with Amelia Earhart to have the race opened to women. Newscom/FILE
Former pilot Lorrain Rodgers (c.) of Alexandria, Va., was on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, joined by other WASPs, for the award ceremonies for the Congressional Gold Medal. Lauren Victoria Burke/AP
Iwo Jima, a tiny volcanic island in the Pacific between the Marianas Islands and mainland Japan was the site of one of the most historic battles of World War II in which the United States captured the island from Japan. By the end of the campaign 6800 Americans and 20000 Japanese died between February 19 and March 26, 1945. The battle is recognized by the iconic photograph of U.S. Marines raising the American flag at the summit of Mt. Suribachi on February 23, 1945.
John Beaufort was a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor who covered the Pacific theater during World War II. He landed at Kwajalein atoll with the Marines, accompanied the landings at Okinawa, and covered the invasion of Iwo Jima. Here is Beaufort's account, originally published in the Feb. 23, 1945 issue of The Christian Science Monitor. – Leigh Montgomery, Librarian
ByJohn Beaufort, Staff Writer
With Mt. Suribachi now in the possession of the United States Marines at a cost of 5,372 casualties, the invaders at last have a substantial foothold and the technical advantage of their first high terrain.