Ola Mildred Rexroat (August 28, 1917 – June 28, 2017) was the only Native American woman to serve in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).

She joined after high school and had the dangerous job of towing targets for aerial gunnery students. After that she joined the Air Force, where she served for ten years as an air traffic controller. In 2007 she was inducted into the South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame.

She was an Oglala Sioux from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. She earned a bachelor's degree in art from the University of New Mexico in 1939. Rexroat died in June 2017 at the age of 99.

Ola Mildred Rexroat was looking for a way to do her part in the war effort in the 1940s. Being a riveter seemed too dangerous, she said, so she opted for a different path: being a military pilot.

"I just did what I was expected to do and tried to do it the best way I could," Rexroat said. "If I did accomplish anything or add anything to the war effort, I am happy now, and I was happy at the time."

For years, the WASPs were not recognized as veterans. Not until 1977, when President Jimmy Carter signed a bill making them a part of the Air Force, did they receive right to be buried with a flag, buried in a military cemetery and gain access to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals.

Women make up about 11 percent of the force in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to Deb Eiring, spokeswoman for the VA Black Hills Health Care System.

Inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 2007, her plaque honors her nearly ten year career as an Air Force Reserve Captain at Kirkland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

“I’m glad I did it, glad I had the chance to do it. If I had to do it all over again, I’d do the same thing."

Recently Rexroat was honored by a National Native Women's Group. Traditional Lakota singers and guests gathered to acknowledge her service. Georgia Pedro, President of the North American Indian Women's Association (NAIWA) described Rexorat as a "loving, caring person with a wonderful sense of humor" and that as a member of the WASP, she carried on the Native American tradition of women warriors.

Responses to "Remembering the only Native American woman to serve in the Women Airforce Service Pilots "

  1. A true warrior woman. RIP to Ola Mildred Rexroat.

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