This WASP Couldn’t Wait to Fly


Mary Anna (‘Marty’) Martin Wyall – WASP

One benefit of interviewing World War II veterans is the opportunity to develop friendships. My husband and I consider Marty Wyall a friend. Below is a shortened version of her story from my book, WWII Legacies: Stories of Northeast IN Veterans. You can hear Marty speak about her World War II experiences here. She’s still a spunky gal!


Mary Anna (‘Marty’) Martin Wyall of Fort Wayne learned about the WASP program from a magazine ad while studying bacteriology at DePauw University in 1942. The idea of flying intrigued her. “There was a war on and I wanted to help my country,” she said.

Her family was not keen on the idea. “Mother thought it was morally wrong for me to join the WASP,” she said. “She came from the Victorian era. I told her she would have to accept it because if I was accepted, I planned to work hard.”

Each WASP was required to have 35 hours of flying before joining the program. Wyall paid for her private flying lessons after graduating from DePauw and while working in the serology lab at Eli Lilly in Indianapolis.

Among the 25,000 applicants for the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) during WWII, Wyall, who lived in Indianapolis at the time, was one of 1,830 women accepted and one of only 1,074 who completed the program.


Pictures of Fifinella, a female gremlin designed by Walt Disney to depict the WASP.

After being accepted in May 1944, Wyall traveled at her own expense to Avenger Air Field in Sweetwater, Texas, where the WASP trained. Since the WASP program was not recognized by Congress as part of the military, female recruits paid for their own training, uniforms, room and board. “People kept telling us we were in the military,” said Wyall. “Until Congress passed a bill saying we were in the military, we were not afforded benefits.”

Each WASP learned military protocol and procedures. They also were taught to fly a PT17, Stearman open cockpit, BT13 and AT6. “The AT6 was wonderful because it had a canopy,” said Wyall. “When I flew the Stearman, the wind whipped the scarf across my helmet and goggles.”

The training was nearly identical to what male pilots had completed, including learning to fly in inclement weather and at night. Before earning their wings, each woman completed a 2,000-mile solo cross-country flight.

Wyall’s class graduated December 7, 1944. Two weeks later, the program abruptly closed. “Some people believed the war would be over soon,” she said. Today, you can visit the WASP Museum at Sweetwater.

Male pilots who had flown dozens of overseas combat missions arrived home, ready to resume their flying assignments. The WASP, the nation’s first group of skilled female pilots trained to fly American military aircraft, was sent home, all paying their own way.

Back in Indiana, Martin flew as a commercial pilot for businesses. In 1946 she married Eugene Wyall and they became parents to five children. Eugene died in 1993.

The efforts of the WASP went unnoticed until 1977 when President Jimmy Carter signed a law stating they could be recognized as veterans of WWII.

In March 10, 2010, Wyall and the other WASP were awarded Congressional Gold Medals for their service at the Capitol in Washington D.C.


In 2010 the Indiana State Museum organized an exhibition of Wyall’s military experiences. The exhibit highlighted Wyall’s training and involvement as a WASP and featured her military effects and Congressional Gold Medal which she loaned to the museum. The museum also provided some photos of Wyall for my book.


“We WASP didn’t care about the pay or recognition,” said Wyall. “We just wanted to help our country win the war.”

Thank a vet today for his/her service!


42 thoughts on “This WASP Couldn’t Wait to Fly

  1. GP Cox says:

    A very nice tribute for a well-deserving veteran!!

  2. GP Cox says:

    Reblogged this on Pacific Paratrooper and commented:
    To honor our females veterans.

  3. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Reblogged this on Lest We Forget II and commented:
    One of many untold stories in history books

    • kayreusser says:

      I love finding these stories and writing them! The vets deserve our best! Thanks for your comment.

      • Pierre Lagacé says:

        I have been writing since 2009 on veterans and those who never made it back to tell their stories.

        I find this story most interesting. I have learned a lot on a subject I did not know about.

        I like to write about unsung heroes. I write mostly in French although sometimes I will write in English or in both languages.

        It all about the duty to remember… le devoir de mémoire.

        Thanks again for sharing your stories.

  4. Beautiful story, and beautiful photo. The pride in her eyes is apparent, pride for her service, and pride for the recognition. Another unsung American hero.

  5. Tippy Gnu says:

    Women do quite a bit for low pay or no pay. Glad to see some recognition.

  6. Great tribute and story! I thank you for sharing.

  7. smilecalm says:

    gratitude to you
    for sharing her 🙂

  8. swabby429 says:

    What an amazing lady!

  9. Amazing women. A friend of mine, who was like an Aunt to me, and she flew cargo planes from the HI Islands during WWII. She spent her whole life flying as a taxi plane in So California and I admired her very much. So I can truthfully say I understand Marty’s story and that I truly admire her too. ~~dru~~

  10. Gypsy Bev says:

    What an adventuresome young lady. To think that they trained and served without pay and even paid their own expenses. That’s showing your American spirit to the max.

  11. jfwknifton says:

    A great story! Some people had to struggle so strongly to be accepted as equals. You’ve probably heard of the women in our Air Transport Auxiliary. Too stupid to fly. Then too stupid to fly twin engined aircraft. Then too stupid to fly four engined aircraft. Until they were flying heavy bombers back and forth across the country with no problems whatsoever.

  12. […] The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) was a paramilitary aviation organization. The WASP’s predecessors, the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) and the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) organized separately in September 1942. They were the pioneering organizations of civilian female pilots, employed to fly military aircraft under the direction of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. The WFTD and WAFS were merged on August 5, 1943, to create the paramilitary WASP organization. The female pilots of the WASP ended up numbering 1,074, each freeing a male pilot for combat service and duties. They flew over 60 million miles in every type of military aircraft. The WASP was granted veteran status in 1977, and given the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.  Update:  Here is a link to a post in 2016 about an interview with a WASP […]

  13. What a wonderful story. I added a link to this post to a story I posted previously about women in WW2

  14. colonialist says:

    They were ahead of their time. It is good to know that their patriotism and enthusiasm were finally rewarded.

  15. Thank you, Ms. Wyall, thank you very much.

  16. Lloyd Marken says:

    I’m very glad to see in that last photo that she was awarded her service medals for the war. Congressional medals are all very good but she served in the war stateside and she should have her medals that show that.

  17. […] Source: This WASP Couldn’t Wait to Fly […]

  18. This is fascinating. Sad, but interesting. Patriotic women like Ms. Wyall certainly deserve our admiration and gratitude.

  19. she was beautiful then and now! what a wonderful story…except for the part where they had to pay their own way back home!

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