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Congress backs Arlington burial honor for female pilots
May 11, 2016 / 4:10 PM / 2 years ago

Congress backs Arlington burial honor for female pilots

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers cleared the way on Wednesday for female pilots from World War Two to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, the vast military cemetery just outside Washington.

A man pauses at a grave during Memorial Day celebrations at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia May 25, 2015. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The House of Representatives and Senate both unanimously approved legislation to allow the cremated remains of about 1,000 women who served as Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, in the 1940s to be buried there.

The Senate passed the bill late on Tuesday and the House approved it on Wednesday, sending it to the White House for President Barack Obama to sign into law.

The women performed training and transport missions in the United States during the conflict so male pilots could be sent overseas.

Unlike male veterans, however, they could not be interred at Arlington, the best-known but very crowded U.S. military cemetery, because authorities have insisted their service was not the same as active duty.

The bill was sponsored by Republican Representative Martha McSally, who was the first woman U.S. Air Force pilot to fly combat missions.

An earlier version of the legislation - with a few technical differences from the final version passed on Wednesday - passed the House unanimously in March.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, editing by G Crosse and Tom Brown

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