Last Updated on 2 months by Kev
Elizabeth L. Gardner Bio
Elizabeth L.Gardner was an American pilot during World War II who served as a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). She was one of the first American female military pilots and the subject of a well-known photograph, sitting in the pilot’s seat of a Martin B-26 Marauder.
In 2009, the 300 living WASP pilots were awarded a Congressional Gold Medal through a unit citation.
Elizabeth L. Gardner Age
Elizabeth was born in the year 1921 and died on December 22, 2011. He died at the age of 90 years old.
Elizabeth L. Gardner Family
Gardner was born in Rockford, Illinois, in 1921. She graduated from Rockford High School in 1939.
Elizabeth L. Gardner Husband/Married
Elizabeth was a mother and housewife before the war started. After she married, she took the last name Remba.
Elizabeth L. Gardner Career
After enlisting as a Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), Gardner “had two days of training under Lieutenant Col. Paul Tibbets, who later commanded the B-29 that dropped the first atom bomb on Hiroshima.”She was the subject of an often-reproduced historical photo when she was 22 the original is held at the National Archives. The photograph became emblematic of the place of women in the service of their country.
Elizabeth L.Gardner flew Martin B-26 Marauder medium bombers, including the AT-23 trainer version of the bomber. One of her stations was in Dodge City, Kansas. She was trained as a test pilot and flight instructor, and she also flew aircraft that towed aerial targets.
After years of fighting for recognition of their military service, Women Airforce Service Pilots were recognized with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.
In December 1944, the government disbanded WASP, and Gardner returned to the private sector. She was a commercial pilot after World War II, flying for Piper Aircraft Corporation in Pennsylvania. In that capacity, she became involved in public relations, using her piloting skills to ferry Piper customers, meeting with the Department of Defense, and writing all of William T. Piper’s speeches.
Gardner worked as a test pilot after the war, including for General Textile Mills, which was working on an aircraft parachute that was intended to safely land aircraft that became disabled in flight.
Elizabeth L.Gardner participated in at least two tests with the device in December 1945, both of which forced her to bail out of the aircraft when the parachute became tangled in the test aircraft.
During the second incident, the aircraft entered a dive when its elevators were jammed by the parachute; Gardner escaped from the cockpit, but she was only 500 ft (150 m) from the ground when her own parachute opened.
Elizabeth L. Gardner WASP
One well-known WASP, Elizabeth L.Gardner from Rockford, Illinois controlled the B-26 Marauder medium bomber during WWII. Aged 22 at the time, Libby recalled, “I was called to duty when the war started to learn how to test planes, instruct pilots, tow targets used for anti-aircraft artillery practice, and assemble planes.
When I first started learning, I was eager and nervous and also had two days of training under Lieutenant Col. Paul Tibbets who later commanded the B-29 that dropped the first atom bomb on Hiroshima.”
Another home state WASP, Dora Dougherty, became the sixth woman in the country to earn an airline transport pilot license, quickly excelling as a B-29 Superfortress demonstration pilot. Following her service, she became a flight instructor at the University of Illinois.
Both women have passed away in recent years (roughly 110 WASPs survive today). All WASPs underwent the same military training as their male counterparts: marching, living in barracks, infantry drills, and taking oaths of allegiance.
Had they been male pilots during WWII, they could have accepted active duty commissioning following their 90-day training period. But the policy and cultural hesitancy on women in the military were not what it is today.
We have made progress. WASPs were granted veteran status in 1977. On July 1, 2009, a bill passed by Congress awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to the WASPs was signed into law. Present at the ceremony were nearly 300 remaining survivors of the first female military pilots.
Yet instating full burial rights at Arlington National Cemetery is still unfinished. Space constraints at Arlington are well documented. However, housing the cremated remains of a limited number of women is not unduly burdensome.
In addition to supporting this legislation, I have written to the Acting Secretary of the Army requesting a plan to reinstate inurnment and full military honors for these women. I wait to hear a response.
Until then, let’s celebrate these brave women and continue to push for full recognition of their service.
Elizabeth L. Gardner Death and Legacy
Elizabeth L.Gardner died in New York on December 22, 2011. Rockford, Illinois held a mural festival downtown in 2019 and included a mural by Ohio artists Jenny Roesel Ustick and Atalie Gagnet based on Gardner’s time as a WASP.