Friday, July 9, 2010
The Project: Museum Exhibit Honoring Gail Sigford and Four Other Klamath Falls WASP
We gathered pictures from old albums and boxes, scoured the internet for pictures and articles about the WASP from Klamath Falls as well as general WASP information. Arm patches, discharge papers, and WASP class books were ferreted out of their hiding places. We even found a 1943 Life Magazine which featured and article about these amazing flying women of WWII. A sister-in-law undertook scanning the pictures inside the magazine and put them on a digital picture frame which was a very nice addition to the display. We had timelines and little known facts about the WASP as well as posters on the walls and in the display cases.,
We also had access to a lighted, glass cube in which we hung models of several of the training planes that were flown by the WASP at Avenger Field in Sweetwater TX. One of the interesting things that my sister and I noticed was that several of the the training planes that were flown by WASP were planes that we grew up with when we were children. Our father purchased and flew a number of war surplus planes, so the Stearman (B-13), Fairchild (PT-19) and the twin engine Cessna Bobcat (UC-78). that we knew as children were the same planes that my aunt flew in Texas.
Also included were pictures and bios of the four other WASP that were at one time or another connected with Klamath County. Two of them were rather well known, Blanche Osborn Bross was flew B-17s and was in one of the more well known pictures as she and three other WASP, dressed in their sheep skin flight suits, were walking away from the B-17, Pistol Packin' Mama. Peggie Parker Eccles not only ferried bombers, but also was assigned to a top secret project; she was the "taxi service" to four top scientist working.
The local newspaper gave us a nice spread, complete with a picture of my brother holding our aunt's Congressional Gold Medal (actually a bronze medal, as the Gold Medal now resides in the Smithsonian Institute). My brother traveled to Washington D.C. in March 2010 to receive our aunt's posthumously presented Congressional Gold Medal.
After we gave my aunt's ashes back to the air, wind, and land, the entire group of family and friends visited the museum exhibit as well as the Veteran's Park where we had placed a memorial brick in her honor. My aunt was a very private person and would have been quite surprised at this very public display --- though I do believe she would also have been very pleased. According to her, being a WASP, part of that amazing history, was one of the most significant and exciting experiences of her life. We honored that life and how she affected our lives.