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Vi Cowden and Pearl Harbor Remembered

Vi Cowden: Pearl Harbor Remembered
Jesse Bluma at Pointe Viven. All rights reserved.

Imagine the courage, strength, and boldness it would take to face life and death in the air.  This is the story of one woman that faced enemies and made her dream come true.   Read on and be amazed.

"The United States Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal the highest award that a civilian can receive to nearly 300 women, all over the age of 86.
 What is it that these women did to deserve such a prestigious decoration?  Wings of Silver: The Vi Cowden Story, follows one 93-year-old womans journey from the Black Hills of South Dakota where she learned to fly biplanes, to flying fighter planes for the Army Air Corps in 1943 & 44.  Vi was among the first women in United States history to fly military planes.  The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) were not only crucial to the war effort during World War II, they also changed the course of Women's history."

"Vi Cowden spent her childhood and adolescence on a South Dakota farm where she would watch hawks fly high, and moments later, zoom down to capture a chicken.  As she says, “that’s when, as a seven year old child, my dream to fly like a hawk began.'  October 1st, 1916, Vi Cowden was born in a South Dakota sod house.  She attended Black Hills University, and taught primary grades there.   During these years, Vi would join her friend, and friend’s boyfriend to watch him shoot landings at the airport.  Passively observing this young man fly simply wasn’t enough for Cowden.  She couldn’t just watch anymore.  She approached the owner, and said clearly, 'I want to learn to fly.' 

Having no car, Vi rode her bike six miles to the airport before school, taught all day, and returned for ground school at night.

She received her private pilot’s license before the December 7th Pearl Harbor Bombings, and resolved to serve her country.  She joined the Navy.  She said she liked the hats, but when she received a telegram from Jacqueline Cochran to join the class of 43-4 for pilot training, her fashion interests fell.  She was going to fly.
  December 20th, 1944 remains one of the saddest in Vi’s history.  This is when the WASP program ended, and she knew she would never again fly a P-51.  She comments, 'This plane was like having your own wings… It was an honor for me to fly the P-51 and be one of the Legends.'  After the service, Vi worked at the TWA ticket counter, and was in the ceramic business for ten years.  She’s been married for fifty years, has one daughter, and three grandchildren.  She has had a wonderful life, and claims, 'flying the P-51 is the best thing that ever happened to this farm girl that had a dream of flying like the hawks.'"  Violet Cowden died at age 94 on April 10, 2011.  

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Credits:  Orange Country Register, Youtube,

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