Tuesday, July 28, 2009

WASP Marcia Ellen Courtney Bellassai, 43-3 July 21, 2009

Marcia Ellen Courtney Bellassai passed away on Tuesday, July 21, 2009, having led a full and rich life. She was a hard working mother of five children who will miss her as long as the wind blows and the rain falls.

Born in Hartford, Wis., the second of three sisters, she attended the St. Kilian School and was pleased to have had one of her father’s prize chickens named after her. She graduated from UW Madison in 1941, and began flying with the CPTP, even occasionally barnstorming in aircraft of the period.

At the beginning of World War II she worked for two years for Piper Aircraft Corp., and then was admitted into the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), earning her WASP wings and graduating in class 43-W-3.

She flew a wide variety of missions, including towing targets (for live AAC practice), ferrying aircraft to airfields around the country, and instructing.

Only a few weeks ago on July 2, 2009, a bill passed by Congress was signed by the president awarding her and all the WASP a congressional gold medal.

After the war, she worked for the Joint Attache Office at the American Legation in Bucharest, Romania, where she met her future husband, the late Maj. Anthony Bellassai. They lived at a variety of duty stations in Europe, California and Fort Huachuca, Ariz., eventually settling in Maryland for many years.

She earned a master of library science degree from the University of Maryland, and did a number of library and literacy studies (some still available online), before finally retiring with her husband to Sierra Vista. Marcia loved history, ancient cultures, genealogy, languages, and gardening, and her passion for reading — especially mysteries and novels of the Regency period — was unmatched.

She is survived by five children, Elissa Strati of Baltimore, Md., Gina Bellassai of Kea’au, Hawaii, Cara Welsh of Chattanooga, Tenn., Anthony C. Bellassai of Slippery Rock, Pa., and Marc C. Bellassai of Sierra Vista; as well as four grandchildren, Brian Bellassai, Joseph Lynch, Graham Louis Bellassai and Kara Cherelaine Welsh. Donations to the Friends of the Sierra Vista Public Library in Marcia’s name will give support to a new generation of readers.

Final Resting:
Southern Arizona Veterans' Memorial Cemetery
1550 Buffalo Soldier Trail
Sierra Vista, AZ 85635

Monday, July 27, 2009

WASP Marjory Foster Munn, 44-W-5 July 25, 2009

Marjory passed away Saturday, July 25, 2009 after a three year battle with cancer. In her own words, from Betty Turner's "Out of the Blue and Into History" -- what a wonderful life.


I was born March 17, 1921, in Huntington, West Virginia. Our family moved to Miami, Florida, when I was three. I graduated from Miami Senior High School in 1939, and became a beautician. I also entered flight training at Embry Riddle School. I obtained my private license with a seaplane rating. I was a member of the Women Flyer's of America, CAP.

I joined the WASP class 44-5. I was assigned to Basic Training school, testing aircraft the flew administrative missions. I applied for and completed Officer Training at Orlando FL, and Advanced Instrument course at Sweetwater, Texas, then was assigned to the Air Proving Ground Command, Eglin Field, Florida. There I ferried AT-6's to and from gunnery schools and maintenance field. I also qualified in the P-39 and B-25.

After deactivation, I applied for CAA Aircraft Communications, was assigned to New York and Boston for training, with operational assignment to Norfolk, Virginia as aircraft radio communicator. Later, I transfered to the War Department, as aircraft dispatcher at Washington National Airport. Following the 1946 reduction-in-force, I returned home to Miami, and was accepted as a Pan American World Airways stewardess. I began flying in 1948, out of New York to Puerto Rico and Bermuda.

In 1949 I transferred to Miami and flew trips to Central, South America and the Caribbean. I flew the inaugural flight ("El Presidente") from New York to Buenos Aires in the new Boeing Stratocruiser.

In 1949, I accepted a direct commission in USAF Reserves as a 2nd Lt. I was called to active duty in 1951. I reported to a troop carrier wing in Miami as Administrative Officer. A year later, I was transferred to Okinawa, and assigned to Hdqtrs. 20th AF, serving as Personnel Officer with duties for personal records and Casualty Officer. When eligible, I was promoted to a 1st Lt. For my service I was awarded the Bronze Start decoration.

I met my husband, Captain James Munn, on Okinawa in 1952, while he was assigned as Intelligence and Briefing Officer to Hdqtrs. 20th AF. Jim had been a B-17 pilot (in WWII) with the 8th Air Force. He had been shot down over Germany and spent time as a POW, was discharged at the end of WWII, and recalled to active duty in 1951.

We were married on Okinawa in April 1953. On our return to the states in 1954, we were assigned to 9th AF at England Air Force Base, Alexandria, LA where I was promoted to Captain. After two years seeing the draw down of the Air Force, we decided to return to civilian life.

We traveled the US and Canada before moving to Spokane, WA, where Jim worked for Kaiser Aluminum. We both attended Gonzaga University, he at night law school, and I during the day. In 1960, we adopted our first son.

In 1962, we settled in Seattle, WA, where Jim worked with the King County Prosecuting Attorney, later into private practice. We both remained active in the Air Force Reserve program. We adopted two more sons, two years apart. In 1965, I graduated from the University of WA with a BA degree.

In 1983, I was selected by the Sec. of Defense, for a three-year appointment to the Defense Advisory Committee On Women in the Services (DACOWITS). This appointment carried the protocol grade of Lt. General when visiting bases for inspections and gathering information regarding treatment and utilization of female personnel. I remain active in my Pan Am Flight attendant group (World Wings), my garden club and look forward to WASP reunions.


Marjory was another one-of-a-kind extraordinary WASP.
God bless her and her family--and ever life she ever touched.

Will post more as information becomes available.