At Capitol ceremony, female aviators of WWII honored

- thestate.com

Macie Jo Wheelis, 91, has had a colorful life. A pioneering female aviator, she was one of the 1,102 Women Airforce Service Pilots in World War II. She was an avid golfer who played with the legendary Byron Nelson, a Dallas bowling champion and, for years, a West Texas racehorse breeder and owner.

Wheelis, who's now in a wheelchair and a little hard of hearing, has lost none of her spunk. One of 300 surviving WASPs, she proudly participated in a ceremony Wednesday at the Capitol that honored the women with the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the nation's highest civilian honors.

"This tops it off," the Weatherford, Texas, resident said of getting the award and the long-overdue recognition. "I wonder why it took so long."

The ceremony had to be moved from the Capitol Rotunda to the much larger Capitol Visitor Center's Emancipation Hall, because so many WASPs and their families attended.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said more than 2,000 people were in the hall at what was "one of the largest crowds ever gathered in the Capitol."

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