A bright light, a sparkplug, a bundle of joyful energy and a lady who could kick higher than her head until just a few years ago, Julie Jenner Stegge passed away June 22, 2009. She was ninety-seven years old.
Not much information is available yet from her family, but these words from Bryd Howell Ganger's "On Final Approach" are so appropriate, for this determined young woman pilot with a smile that lit up the room.
Morale is shot down by the bitter cold. It's worst at night when all bay gas heaters are turned off....on the flight line, parked planes strain against mooring lines as the wind whips and surges. Covers protect the engines. The cockpits fill with snow. With nothing to do, trainees get on each other's nerves.
Julie Jenner, Class 44-3, doesn't like the sinking morale at Avenger. She is naturally vivacious, keen on enjoying life and having everyone else have a good time too. On Broadway as a member of the Ziegfeld Follies cast, she has seen how boredom can create havoc. Smart directors keep everyone on tippy toes and maybe that should be done at Avenger too. What is needed is something to keep everyone busy--a show!
Julie takes her idea to the Chief Establishement Officer...Sure, go ahead...Julie does, enlisting trainees as set designers, stage hands, music composers, choreographers. the show is a huge success, so much so that its cast is invited to abandon flying and take the show on the road to Air Forces bases. they perform at one other base. But keep it up?
What? AND GIVE UP FLYING? NOT ON YOUR SWEET LIFE!" (1)
"Tower--WASP Jener in UC78 on taxiway Plane won't move. Won't do anything. I'm leaving it right here."
Julie shuts down both engines, sets the brakes (what for? Won't budge anyway). opens the door, and starts out. Up rolls a jeep. In it is a handsome officer with a determined look. He jumps onto the wing.
"Here...I'll move it for you."
Oh, he will, will he. Smirking, Julie s
ubsides on the copilot seat, folds her arms, and waits. He starts the engines, revs them up, pumps the brakes. Nothing. He really guns the engines. Nothing happens except that the UC's tail rises a bit. Julie grins. He laughs. Looking at each other, they break up guffawing.
A tractor hauls the UC-78 to the ramp, its wheels solidly olocked and leaving rubber in tis path.
And that's how Julie meets her future husband, "the best ting that ever happened" to her "in the Army Air Force." (2)
1. p 356
We met Julie in 1992, when she danced to
the WASP RAP, "We Got the Stuff, the Right Stuff," (written by my mom) at the 50th Anniversary WASP Convention in San Antonio. Julie had a wonderful time--and her performance is still talked about by WASP today. I know Julie enjoyed sharing her WASP experiences--and talking about flying for her county.
Julie was, after all, a patriot!