Friday, September 3, 2010

WASP Flight Instructor J.C.Pace, Jr

J.C. Pace, Advance Flight Commander, 318th AAFFTD
by Alberta Head

When bloody war and urgent need for haste is gone,
And economic chaos holds us still,
We shall not soon forget his shape along the street,
Or near the half-deserted hangars on the hill.

His shoulders forward bent against the weight of wind and 'chutes
The lagging step to match his slow, insistent word,
The  wisdom and the patience on his face,
The pride behind the stinging comment that we heard.

We shall remember well the scarf he wore
Of white silk stuff, the juanty cap which set him quite apart,
His summer's tan, his winter pinks,
The fleece-lined hood and other heavy trappings of his art.

But do not think he will be loath to go--for look!
Beyond the steady gaze of his blue eyes
His heart is fastened on some lovely, distant dream,
Some fairer view than sandy Texas skies.

( WASP Classbook 43- 4/5)


Although I never had the opportunity to meet him, WASP Flight Instructor,  J.C. Pace,  was a name that made 'folks' in West Texas smile when they heard it.  His kindness and generosity to the place and the people were part of his personality--and the mark of a true 'Texas Gentleman'.  The young women,  whom he instructed in flying military aircraft at  Avenger Field, who then graduated and became WASP,   remember how much he loved to fly!   Today, he is truly flying higher.

To Gary and the whole Pace family,  including Brenda, may our prayers and God's amazing love surround you all.
v/r posted by nancy parrish


The following reposted from the Fort Worth Star Telegram

J.C. Pace Jr., co-founder of Buddies Super Markets and Fort Worth civic leader, dies at 93

FORT WORTH -- On the day J.C. Pace III received his pilot's license, he took his grandfather flying.
After the little Cessna climbed to altitude, the pilot turned to his passenger and asked if he wanted to take the controls.

J.C. Pace Jr., who had trained Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II, accepted the invitation. He made lazy circles above Fort Worth -- the city he loved and promoted, and where he earned his fortune -- until it was time to land.

"I got it now," J.C. III said as they descended.
His passenger pretended not to hear.
With the runway looming now, the 19-year-old pilot spoke up again.
"OK, I've got it."
The older man ignored him. "Are you going to land it?" the grandson asked.
"That's right!" J.C. Jr. said, and that's just what he did, bringing the plane down gently, perfectly until the wheels kissed the ground at Meacham Field, and his nervous grandson sighed with relief.

It was no small feat for an exhilarated 81-year-old who hadn't flown a plane in a quarter-century. But those who knew the man shouldn't have been surprised by the performance.

J.C. Pace Jr. achieved most everything he set his mind to during his 93 years. The longtime businessman and civic leader, who co-founded Buddies Super Markets, served two terms as president of the Fort Worth Area Chamber of Commerce and played a key role in building the Kimbell Art Museum, died Thursday at his home, surrounded by his family.

"My father loved flying. He loved his life," said daughter Margaret Pace Sykes.

Mr. Pace was born June 13, 1917, in Alto, the son of Joe and Novelle Pace. He moved with his family to Sweetwater at age 2.

At age 21, he bought a grocery store in Sweetwater with a bank loan guaranteed by his father. In 1956, Mr. Pace bought five grocery stores in Fort Worth and moved to the city, where he founded Buddies Super Markets with Kay Kimbell.

After 16 years as the chain's president and CEO, Mr. Pace sold his stock to Tandy Corp.

Mr. Pace was a member of the Kimbell Art Foundation and served on the board for 40 years. He was president of the United Way of Tarrant County and the Fort Worth Chamber Development Corp.

In 1975, Mr. Pace, who at age 30 served as mayor of Sweetwater, ran unsuccessfully for the same office in Fort Worth against Clif Overcash Sr.

His wife, Joan Hendrix Pace, died in 1995 and son Joe Kelly Pace in 2009. Other survivors include son Gary Hendrix Pace; five grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. The funeral will be private.

David Casstevens,

Thursday, September 2, 2010

WASP Josephine Keating Swift, 44-1

Josephine (Jo) Swift passed away on Saturday, August 28, 2010,  less than a month before her ninety-first birthday.  She will be missed, and she will be remembered with joy,  for she was a gift to all who knew her -- a WASP with a shining spirit that touched so many lives, including mine.

Jo was born in Great Falls, Montana on September 24, 1919.  She called Great Falls "a hotbed of stunt fliers, crop dusters, barnstormers and flight schools”.  She and her brother paid $2 and took a ride in an airplane that changed their lives.  (Jo later said it may have been the goggles and scarves.)

After  successfully soloing and flying enough hours to get her pilot’s license,  Jo  then completed the required minimum of 35 hours and applied for, and was accepted into,  the WASP’ flying training program as a member of class 44-W-1.  After completing 7 months of training, she, along with 48 other young women pilots, graduated,   received their silver wings, and became WASP!     Class 44-1 was the first class to wear the Santiago Blue WASP dress uniform!   They also wore gloves at their graduation.  Jo’s graduation day was one of the coldest February's in West Texas history!

After graduation, Jo was sent to Dodge City, Kansas to the Army Air Base to learn to fly the B-26 Martin Marauder.  After successfully completing the transition training, she was stationed at  Pueblo Army Air Base, Colorado, a combat training base.  There, she flew both the B-26 & UC-78.  She ferried cargo,  personnel,  and aircraft; towed targets,  and flew simulated dive-bombing runs at B-24's.

After the WASP were deactivated, Jo applied to several airline companies for a job. They were not hiring female pilots.   Without success, she returned to Billings, Montana, where she was an instructor, flew,  and typed her way to her next job: wife and mother.

Jo married a ‘bush’ pilot from Alaska named Ken Swift.  She and Ken had three children.  When Ken passed away, Jo worked six years doing market research at Boeing.  She then opened an IFG Leasing Company in Anchorage, Alaska.

Eventually, Jo returned to Seattle,  later moving to Port Townsend, to be closer to her family. 

Jo is survived by her three children, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
(There is no  information available regarding services.)
Tech Sgt. Normand and WASP Josephine Swift in front of the Capitol

The last time I saw Jo was in Washington.  She was smiling from the inside out, wearing her WASP beret as only she could--just a little taller than most!

Jo had come to DC to attend the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony.   I was looking forward to seeing her, because, just a few months before, she had called my cell at just the right moment.   I was waiting in Sen. Hutchison's hallway between meetings regarding the Bill to award the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal.   I had never met or talked to Jo before, but  I was thrilled to be able to tell her first-hand  'what was happening'  in Washington.  I could hear her smiling!

Although I didn't get to spend much time with her at the ceremony, I was honored to know her.  Her sparkling spirit was contagious.  Perhaps this article says it better than I ever could:   

A very special moment happened after the ceremony was over, on the steps of the Capitol, when Jo's escort, Tech Sgt. Heather Normand, presented Jo her replica Gold Medal in front of 17 members of her family! 

Respectfully written and posted by Nancy Parrish
Sept. 2, 2010

M2W First Women Award

Monday, August 30, 2010

WASP Lizabeth Ann Hazzard, 43-7

On August 25, 2010, another precious, patriotic, courageous WASP ‘Slipped the surly bonds of earth and touched the face of God’. Lizabeth Ann Hazzard passed away after an extended hospital stay at several local hospitals in south Texas.

She was born Lisabeth Ann Morgan on March 26, 1921 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  In 1941, Ann  became interested in flying and signed up for the CPT (Civilian Pilot Training) course at Butler University,  where she learned to fly.

She earned her pilot’s license and enough hours to enter WASP class 43-7, along with 101 other young women pilots. On Novmber 13, 1943, after successfully completing the required curriculum and flying proficiency of Army Air Force flight training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, Ann and 58 classmates graduated, received their silver WASP wings, and became WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots).

Following her WASP graduation, Ann was assigned by the AAF to Mather Air Force Base, Sacramento, California for B-25 transition. After successfully completing the transition training, she was then transferred to March AFB, California, where she flew the B-25 as a tow-target pilot.

On 20 December 1944 the WASP were disbanded. After the deactivation, Ann ‘hitched’ a ride on a B-17 leaving San Diego, California and got as far as Topeka, Kansas. The trip was a fond memory, because she was able to take the pilot’s seat for the last military flying she ever did.

After WWII, Ann married Captain George M. Staples and was an Air Force wife for 13 years, until her husband passed away. As the mother of two young children, Ann became a working mom. Shortly after his death, she and another Air Force widow formed a modeling agency in San Antonio called “Military Models.” All of the models were wives, widows and children of military personnel.

15 years after her first husband’s death, Ann met and married Harry Hazzard, businessman and great supporter of the WASP. Harry and Ann traveled to most of the WASP Reunions, with Harry serenading the WASP with his mellow baritone, ‘big-band’ voice and wife, Ann, standing close by, always smiling quietly.

In March, 2010,  Ann and Harry traveled to DC so she could be a part of the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony. Harry was by her side, smiling.

On April 6, 2010, Ann and Harry Hazzard celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary.

Ann and Harry made their home near Pharr, Texas, where they owned and operated an RV park, "Holiday Village," part of the year. They built another home outside Hot Springs Arkansas, where they spent the other part of the year.

Ann was a member of Zion Lutheran Church of Alamo. She is survived by her husband, Harry Hazzard; her children, Joseph William Staples of San Antonio and Georgeanne Nell of Daleville, Alabama; her two step-children, Ed Schneider of Hot Springs, Ariz, and Susan Pratt of Lake Whitney, Texas; sister Judy Campbell of Indianapolis, Ind; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Memorial service was held Saturday, Aug. 28, 2010, at Zion Lutheran Church in Alamo. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Amodor Funeral Home in Pharr, Texas.

CLICK to sign the guest book.

In February of 2009, when our family was trying to plan for a very expensive trip to DC to attend the WASP Gold Medal Ceremony, Harry Hazzard kindly came forward and made it possible for all of us to stay together at a reasonable rate. His thoughtfulness and kindness will never be forgotten! He and Ann were a team. It is hard to remember them any other way. We will be forever grateful for their kindness.

Our prayers are with Harry and the entire family.

Respectfully posted by Nancy Parrish

With references to online obituary and WASP Betty Turner's "Out of the Blue and Into History"

WASP Barbara Donahue Ross, WAFS

Barbara Donahue Ross, 90, died at her home on Acorn Farm on Saturday, August 21, 2010. 

She was born March 25, 1920 in New York City the daughter of Charles Dempsey Donahue and Matilda Higgins Donahue. Barbara attended Spence School, Ethel Walker School and Vassar College.  

She was an original member of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS).  She later became the commanding Officer of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) at Romulus Army Air Base in Michigan.

On November 22, 1946 she married Captain Howard Ross.  In December 1950, Captain and Mrs. Ross purchased Acorn Farm in Warrenton where they raised a family and ran a dairy operation.

During those years Miz Ross/Donnie was an avid horse enthusiast, fox hunter and active supporter of community activities.  Beginning in the mid-1980s, Granmom became a super soccer fan for each of her grandchildren.  Family and friends will remember her for her generosity, hospitality, kindness, high spirits, sense of fun, grand gestures, courage, grace under pressure and sense of humor.

Barbara was preceded in death by her husband and a daughter, Barbara Mildred Ross.  She is survived by a son, Charles Ross, and two daughters, Patricia Drunagel and Helen Ford, all of Warrenton, and seven grandchildren.

A private family service will be held on Acorn Farm.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be sent to either the Americans for Immigration Control, P.O. Box 738 Monterey, VA 24465-0738, Fauquier SPCA, P.O. Box 733, Warrenton, VA 20188, the Nature Conservancy, 4245 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 100,  Arlington, VA 22203-1606 or to the charity of your choice. 


Respectfully reposted from the Moser Funeral Home site.
Nancy Parrish
Aug. 30, 2010

WASP Mary Burch Nirmaier, 44-5

Another great American patriot,  WASP Mary Louise Burch Nirmaier, Class 44-5,  made her final flight on August 29, 2010  in Columbia, Missouri.

Never having the opportunity to interview Mary, I  respectfully submit the following few bits and pieces of information put together from different resources. 


Mary Louise Burch Nirmaier was born Dec. 12, 1920 in Valley Mills, a small town in the heart of Texas,   where many of her family still live. 

Mary's earliest recollections of airplanes were of her entire family running outside every time they heard an airplane overhead.  She grew up in Valley Mills, Texas and graduated from high school in 1938.  She then moved to Washington D.C.

As America began preparing for World War II, both of her brothers joined the Army Air Forces and served their country. Her brother Kenny was a navigator in a B-17 and her brother Wilbur was an  engineer on a B-24.

Mary wanted to contribute.  She learned of a small airport in Virginia that was giving women the opportunity to learn to fly, so  she paid her own way to take the 70-mile trip on the ‘milk train’ every Sunday morning.  She learned to fly on a rolling pasture in Virginia in a Piper Cub airplane.

After joining an airplane club and accumulating the required number of hours of flying time,   Mary applied to enter the Army Air Forces flight training program for women.  After meeting the  requirements and having a personal interview with one of Ms. Jacqueline Cochran’s staff,  she was accepted for training.

 In November of 1944,  Mary traveled to Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas and entered the  program.    On June 27, 1944, after  7 months of flight training,   she earned her silver WASP wings, graduated as a member of Class 44-5, and became a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots).

Her Army Air Force orders sent her to Douglas AFB,  Arizona, where she flew as an engineering test pilot.  In addition, she flew both utility and administrative flights.

While stationed at Douglas, Mary checked out  in the B-25 Mitchell bomber as a first pilot by the Air Force pilot who had flown the B-25 off the deck of the carrier in the movie "Thirty seconds over Tokyo."    In August, she married Lt. Clayton Nirmaier, who was also stationed at Douglas.

 Mary flew her last flight as a WASP in a B-25 bomber and fondly remembered  flying the 100 mile Arizona valley between towering 12 thousand foot mountains on either side, listening to big-band music.  On December 20, 1944,  the WASP were disbanded.

In 1947 Mary joined the Air Force Reserves and served for the next 20 years.   During that time she also served as Press Secretary for U.S. Rep. John Breckinridge of Kentucky and worked for both the United Press International and the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.  She later worked at Harvard Business School and Rockefeller Institute for University Presidents.

Mary was the proud mother of four children and earned a BA in journalism (1955) and an MA in communications research (1971) from the University of Missouri.

On March 10, 2010, Capt. USAFR (Ret),  WASP Mary Nirmair attended the ceremony in Washington, DC to award the  WASP the Congressional Gold Medal.  She sat on the second row, proudly wearing her Air Force uniform and her WASP wings as she and over 175 of her fellow WASP who were present, and the other WASP who were not present,   were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor Congress can bestow on a civilian.    The next day,  she was welcomed home at Columbia Regional Airport by a crowd of cheering and applauding "Salute to Veterans" volunteers. 

Mary  always wore her uniform to all military functions near her home in Columbia, MO.   She was proud to be both a retired Air Force Reservist and a WASP.  She was also proud of both of her brothers,  Sgt. Wilbur V Burch & Lt. Col. Kenneth Burch,  who served during both WWII & the Korean War.    A very patriotic family!  Amerian flags fly proudly over the family ranch.  


More information will be added as it is available.

V/R posted by Nancy Parrish
Complied from  THE MIZZOU ALUMNI ASSOCIATION, FALL, 2010; The Columbia Tribune; The Missourian; the Waco Tribune Herald and Mary's facebook page.
Aug. 30, 2010