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Veterans' Day Gratitude from Alpha Chi Omega 2010

It's becoming a tradition on Veterans' Day to highlight an Alpha Chi Omega alumna for her military service. This year we hope to inspire you with the story of Betty Bachman Buehner, Xi chapter, University of Nebraska. (see her photo here.)

The Great Plains During World War II tells the story of Betty becoming a pilot through the Civil Aeronautics authority at the University of Nebraska:

click to see full size

The Co-Eds Fly for Uncle Sam

THAT old campus maxim, "A coed's place is at tea dances," is taking an awful beating at the University of Nebraska these days. And all because of three little gals who wouldn't take "No" for an answer–not even from Uncle Sam.

When the University of Nebraska was selected by the Civil Aeronautics authority as one of the schools to set up a course for pilot training, men students thought they'd have the field to themselves. But CAA regulations permitted schools to admit women students up to 10 per cent of the total enrollment in the course and the coeds immediately flocked in.

Prof. Jiles W. Haney, chairman of the mechanical engineering department, who is in charge of the course at Nebraska university, got applications from five coeds. But physical examinations put most of them on a snag. CAA requirements called for girls at least 64 inches tall and weighing not less than 115 pounds. And the gal applicants were on the diminutive side.

Nothing daunted they appealed to authorities to make physical requirements a little less exacting. Prof. Haney and I. V. Packard, secretary of the state aeronautics commission finally persuaded Washington to give the girls a break. As a result, it was agreed that coeds 62 inches tall and weighing one hundred pounds would be admitted, providing they could fulfill all other physical requirements.

When final selection of 40 students was made, three coeds got the nod. Like their masculine classmates they were chosen on a basis of scholastic standing and general ability.

One girl was selected from each of the three upper classes in university. Elinor Hakanson of Fairfield is a teachers college senior; Betty Bachman of Omaha, an arts college junior; and Jean Robinson of Lincoln, an arts college sophomore.

Instructors in fields which are traditionally masculine property usually find the presence of a girl in class a distraction. But the three coeds soon gave evidence they were out to show the boys, not distract them.

The collegiennes had to fight to get into the course and they haven't stopped fighting yet. Two of them–Miss Bachman and Miss Hakanson–were first students to solo out of a group of 30 taking instruction at Municipal airport from Lincoln Airplane and Flying school pilots. Miss Robinson will solo as soon as weather permits the field to be properly cleared. The girls were beaten to their solo flights only by a few students taking instruction from Alva White at Arrow airport, who started their flying instruction earlier.

Not only have they proved their right to try their own wings–their conduct in the ground school part of the course has been equally commendable. Prof. Haney says the girls have been set a much better attendance record for classes than the fellows and seem to show a very definite interest in the course. And Miss Robinson copped more laurels for the feminine contingent by ranking third in an examination on engines–that in a class which includes many engineering students!

Miss Bachman was chosen "best dressed girl" on the Nebraska university campus last spring and was a candidate for "Nebraska Sweetheart" this fall. She has curly hair, eyes that crinkle up when she laughs and is labeled "cute" by campus men.

An accomplished artist, she draws, paints and designs many of her clothes. This 20-year-old coed has dreamed of flying for a long time. As one Alpha Chi Omega sorority sister puts it, she's "nuts about flying and there's nothing she wouldn't do to fly." Betty's not sure how she'll use the training, but admitted she hopes to "make a little money from it eventually."

A sorority sister of Miss Bachman's, Elinor Hakanson was lovely enough to be nominated as one of the candidates for Cornhusker beauty queen last year. She and Betty made their solo flights the same day early in December. She is 21, has been crazy about flying as long as she can remember. Elinor expects to teach, but thinks she'll find a way to combine flying with pedagogy.

See the rest of the article here.

Betty went on to complete her training and became a Womens AirForce Service Pilot (WASP). [About WASP: 1,830 were choosen to receive training, 1,074 graduated, and 916 were on duty when they were disbanded. The air miles flown by these women totaled 60,000,000. They flew all of the planes developed for the war, including the Boeing built B-17 and B-29 bombers.] Betty was a member of class 43-2, the Singing Second. She was stationed at Love Field where she flew AT-6 and PT-19 aircraft. Women like Betty being able to fly freed up men pilots to serve overseas. In 2009, Congress honored all the women who served as WASP with the Congressional Gold Medal. Betty passed away in February 1981.

She's featured on this page by the National Archives for her service.

Additional References: http://www.twu.edu/library/wasp/wasppdf/buehner.pdf

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2009-06-17/html/CREC-2009-06-17-pt1-PgE1457-2.

With gratitude to all men and women who have served our nation, past and present.

Posted on Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 10:45AM by Registered CommenterMTM Exec Board in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

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