February 18, 2010
Doris Tracy to receive Congressional Gold Medal
La Veta resident Doris Tracy, who is 90 years young, will travel to Washington, D.C. next month to receive a long overdue award for her service to the country during World War II.
Tracy joined the Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) program for the Army Air Corps and served from 1943 – 1945. All WASP members are, finally, being awarded a Congressional Gold Medal for their service to our country. A Congressional Gold Medal ceremony will be held in the Capitol rotunda on March 10.
Tracy graduated in the fifth class of WASP’s in 1943. She flew AT-10’s and co-piloted B-17’s and C-45’s during the war. She was one of 1,074 women who earned their wings in the WASP. Today, there are less than 300 surviving WASP’s.
“I wanted to start flying when I was nine years old - ever since my neighbor gave my sister and me a ride in his plane,” Tracy told The Signature.
Tracy loved the flying. She enjoys telling stories from those days – like the time when she realized after takeoff that the oil pressure was dropping in one of her two engines. She had to shut it down and land on one engine. Or taking someone with her on her flights in the AT-10 – because she was not strong enough to manually crank the landing gear down if her hydraulics went out. Or the time she had to scramble for a landing field after realizing her destination was on the other side of a huge storm front. “The meteorologist apologized after that one,” Tracy said.
“I loved acrobatics. I did them all, rolls, spins, stalls and loved it,” Tracy added with a sly grin and a flicker in her eye.
The Congressional Gold Medal, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is the highest honor that is bestowed upon civilians. The first recipient, however, served in the military – George Washington. More recent recipients include; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dalai Lama, The Tuskegee Airmen, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson and the Apollo 11 crew.
Legislation to support the WASP Congressional Gold Medal was co-sponsored by; Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Representative Susan Davis (D-CA). On July 1, 2009, President Obama signed this legislation.
“This Congressional Gold Medal honors the remarkable accomplishments, courage, and sacrifice of a distinct group of women in the United States military,” said Congresswomen Ros-Lehtinen and Davis, and Senators Hutchison and Mikulski. “The Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII will be remembered for their dedicated efforts and unwavering service to our country in the fight for freedom.”
Tracy, who has lived in La Veta since 1945, has two daughters, four grandchildren and three great-grandsons. They are all invited to Washington for the awards ceremony. Be sure to congratulate and thank Doris next time you see her in Charlie’s.
“I didn’t fly for the glory of it. I flew because I wanted to fly.”
~ Doris Tracy