Mabel Rawlinson was killed on Aug. 23, 1943, when her plane crashed during a training exercise at a military base in North Carolina.
Rawlinson, 26, was a member of a newly formed unit of female pilots serving in World War II. But the pilots were not recognized as enlisted soldiers.
So the U.S. Army did not pay to bring Rawlinson’s body back to her hometown of Kalamazoo.
It did not pay for the small graveside ceremony at Mount Ever-Rest Memorial Park.
She received no medals.
“She was forgotten,” said Pamela Pohly, Rawlinson’s niece.
But not anymore.
Sixty-six years after a group of 1,102 women, including Rawlinson, broke the gender barrier in the sky, enabling generations of women to become military pilots, President Barack Obama has awarded the Women Airforce Service Pilots the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor accorded by Congress.