Dedication: WASPs Who Died at Camp Davis
[ Image of WASPs at Camp Davis above is from Byrd Granger's On Final Approach ]

Mabel Virginia Rawlinson
Mabel Virginia Rawlinson
March 1917 to August 1943

   Mabel Rawlinson came to the Camp Davis Army Air Field right after primary training in Texas in 1943. Her assignment was to tow targets behind her plane so antiaircraft gunners could practice. Additional training required flying at night and on one of these flights mechanical problems forced the place down. It hit some pines trees that surrounded the field and nosed in, the plane caught fire and she was trapped inside.
Betty L. Taylor (Wood)
Betty L. Taylor (Wood)
March 1921 to September 1943

   Betty Taylor was killed in a landing accident. She had come here from Texas, too, after primary flight training in 1943, to tow aerial targets. She and her passenger, a chaplain, were killed when the plane went into a spin and hit the ground after a sudden application of engine power during an aborted landing attempt.

Fifinella - mascot drawn by Walt Disney for the WASPs


WASPs at Camp Davis in their own words . . .

   It should be no surprise that some men resented these women pilots. Women were absolutely essential to the war effort, and yet there were some who opposed their participation. Here is what it was like.

Marion Hanrahan

   "I was sent on a temporary basis from the Fifth Ferrying Group at Love Field to tow targets at Camp Davis, NC for anti-aircraft training.

   On arrival we were told the planes were expendable and so were we.&

   The A-24s had been returned from the South Pacific because they were no longer fit for combat. Their tires were rotten, the instruments were malfunctioning and the planes were in very sorry shape. There were proven incidents of sabotage. Conditions were so bad at Camp Davis and the morale of the women so low that it became imperative that the women who remained be sent to other bases.

   The men pilots resented us primarily because, should the women succeed in replacing them, it would mean combat duty. Most were not qualified to fly in this capacity so it would be in ground troops.

   Major Stephenson, base commander, left no question as to what he thought about women in the military, especially as pilots. At first, he was paternalistic advising us to go home and knit socks for the troops. After some accidents, both injury and fatal, he became more adamant that we should not be under his command."

   I asked Marion Hanrahan if she knew either of the two WASPs who died.

   "I was at Camp Davis five months and flew several missions. I knew Mabel very well. We were both scheduled to check out on night flight in the A-24. My time preceded hers but she offered to go first because I hadn't had dinner yet. We were in the dining room when we heard the siren that indicated a crash. When we ran out on the field we saw the front of her plane engulfed in fire and could hear Mabel screaming. It was a nightmare."

Dora Dougherty Strother

   The "little black puffs" the WASPs saw around the targets, and sometimes around their aircraft, showed that the ammunition was live and they were playing for keeps.

   When the enlisted men on the flight line of the 3rd Tow Target Squadron at Camp Davis, North Carolina, heard that women pilots were coming to learn to tow targets, they all immediately requested transfer.

   The camp commander asked them to help him train the women and told them he "would transfer them as soon as possible."

From the introduction to "FOR GOD, COUNTRY, AND THE THRILL OF IT" by Anne Noggle

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