Monday, April 27, 2009

WASP Caryl "Suds" Jones Stortz, 43-W-5

WASP Caryl "Suds" Stortz--in her own words.

"I was born in 1918 in Billings, Montana.

I remember when Lindbergh flew over Billings after his Atlantic flight, and also the ride in the Ford Trimotor when it toured the country. But it really wasn't until a friend of mine wrote me that she had learned to fly in Missoula at the university that I decided that I, too, could learn to fly. I was in my last year of college in Madison, Wisconsin and was accepted by the CPT program at the university. This was in the winter of 1941.

In the summer of 1942, I went to Santa Barbara, but there was no flying on the coast at that time due to the war with Japan. However, I read an article in Time Magazine about Cochran's program and wrote the magazine for the address, which turned out to be a hotel in Los Angeles where she was interviewing.

I went back to Billings to build up some time, and in March was accepted into 43-W-5. There were four girls from Montana to go through the WASP training: Marge Logan, 43-6, who was in high school with me; Frances Jensen Blakeslee 43-8, who was a sorority sister of mine, and Yvonne Ashcraft from Big Timber, who I didn't know until we ferried some PT's from Oklahoma to Montana after being disbanded.

After graduation, I was sent to Camp Davis, North Carolina, to tow target squadron and from there to Camp Stewart, Georgia, where we learned to fly radio controlled aircraft, and finally to Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas. The Douglas Dauntless (A-24), and the Helldiver (A-25), were mainly what we were flying although we did fly others occasionally.

After deactivation, I worked briefly at a plane factory (A-20s) in Tulsa and ferried a few PTs from there to Montana. I was back in Billings, working in the hospital lab, when my friend, Win Wood, called from Arizona and asked if I would drive home (Miami), and I jumped at the chance. I spent about two years working around airplanes in various capacities. From there I went to Waco, Texas where I ran the ground school for a GI flight school. From there to Forsyth, Montana to work with a friend's husband at a GI school, and there I met a man who wanted to hire a plane, and later I married him.

The next stop was when Win Wood called again and asked if I would like to come work at the Palm Springs Airport with her for Mary Nelson, who was running the airport at that time. So I went to Palm Springs and stayed there for about six months until I left to be married.

This about ended my flying years. We were in an auto accident and after I get patched up, which took a while, I got a job in a hospital in Daytona Beach, Florida, and from there went eventually to Asheville and on to New York and ended up back in California at La Jolla.

Win and I decided to get our teaching credentials and both got a job in Brawley, California. Eventually I went back to the coast and spent two years teaching in Germany, returning to Esondido until I retired. A lot of spare time has been spent in traveling, going to classes, etc."

(From WASP Betty Turner's "Out of the Blue and Into History" p. 139)

Caryl passed away on the 24th of February, 2009. She had just turned 91 years old.
She is survived by her brother, Dr. Phillip Jones.


  1. Aunt Caryl was always this mysterious and interesting person in my life. She was wonderful to me through the years, but because of distances I didn't see her often. I'm glad her legacy is being remembered through the WASPs... I know that was a very importants part of who she was and the times she had; through that experience she created dear and life long friends. I will miss her.

  2. Just saw a story about the Wasp pilots and remembered my old teacher in Escondido telling us about her time in the Wasp' s. So I decided to look her up online which brought me to this site.

  3. Mrs. Stortz was my math teacher at Del Dios Jr. High in Escondido, CA around 1974. We talked about her flying and I was impressed. I pursued a career in aviation and always remembered her experiences. I wish I could have gotten to know her better.

    CWO David Borgerd
    US Army Aviation