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    During WWII, the Soviet Union, which already had a tradition of women in combat, was the first nation to use women pilots. After suffering huge male battle casualties in 1941, the government ordered all women without children who were not already engaged in war work to join the military. There were three all-woman regiments: fighter, bomber, and night bomber. Other women flew with male regiments and pilot Valentina Grizodubova was even the commander of a 300-man, long-range bomber squadron.

    During WWII 168 female pilots fought against all the odds for the right to aid the war effort. They were expected to fly wherever the need was greatest , in whatever aircraft was required - one in 10 women pilots died flying for the ATA. Their story is one of courage, sexism, patriotism but above all, a story about women who wanted to break the confines of the world they lived in - and reach for the skies ~

    "Mukhtar Mai is a Pakistani woman who, after being gang-raped, was expected to commit suicide. Instead, she prosecuted her attackers and used compensation money to start schools, a women's shelter and an organization to support women from around Pakistan. We have a chapter about her story in Half the Sky."

    Annie Kenney, (1879 - 1953) Suffragette who spent three days in prison for daring to ask Churchill and Sir Edward Grey if they believed women should have the right to vote. Neither man replied.

    A civilian kicking a Jewish man, Soviet Union, June 1941.

    “Lydia Litvyak and Katya Budanova are born. And then they stomp the living hell out of a bunch of Nazis.” These Russian pilots became the world’s only female fighting aces during World War II. They each racked up at least eleven kills and died in combat. Also: Nazis. Stomped the living hell out of them.

    During the violent months preceding the liberation of Paris, Wake killed a German guard with a single karate chop to the neck, executed a women who had been spying for the Germans, shot her way out of roadblocks and biked 70 hours through perilous Nazi checkpoints to deliver radio codes for the Allies. And she was Australian.

    German fighter pilot, Franz Stigler, and American bomber pilot, Charlie Brown, who met in the air on December 20, 1943. The badly damaged B-17 was a straggler, alone when Stigler came upon it in his Messerschmitt. Instead of shooting it down, Stigler escorted the defenseless bomber past German flak batteries to the North Sea, where he saluted Brown before turning back. Brown managed to nurse the crippled bomber back to safety. They met in 1990 and were friends until both died in 2008.

    "On Sept. 24, 1944, 1st Lt. Mary Louise Hawkins was evacuating 24 patients from the fighting at Palau to Guadalcanal when the C-47 ran low on fuel. The pilot made a forced landing in a small clearing on Bellona Island. During the landing, a piece of metal severed the trachea of one patient. Hawkins kept the man's throat clear of blood with makeshift tubing until aid arrived 19 hours later. All of her patients survived. Hawkins received the Distinguished Flying Cross for her bravery."

    SHE'S MY HERO: Oseola McCarty worked all her life cleaning other women's houses. She lived very frugally, and from her savings, donated $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi for scholarship. “I want to help somebody’s child go to college,” she said. “I’m giving it away so that the children won’t have to work so hard, like I did.”

    Gisella Perl,a successful Jewish gynaecologist in Romania in the 1930s and 40s.She was taken to Auschwitz in 1944,where she treated women with kindness and compassion.She was asked to report all pregnant women to Josef Mengele- better known as the Angel of Death.When she discovered what was done to them (medical experimentation and torture,ending with often being thrown alive into the crematoriums) she began offering abortions to pregnant women to spare their lives. What an amazing Doctor.

    A German World War II prisoner, released by the Soviet Union, is reunited with his daughter. The child had not seen her father since she was one year old.

    R. Norris Williams - survived the sinking of the Titanic but was told to have his legs amputated due to severe frostbite. Refused the doctor's advise and two years later, in 1914, won the men's singles title in the U.S. Championships.

    Alija Moldagulova, Soviet Union, Most highly decorated female sniper in WWII.

    Edith Louisa Cavell - Was a British nurse who is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers from all sides during World War I, for which she was arrested. She was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. Despite international pressure for mercy, she was shot by a German firing squad. Her execution received worldwide condemnation and extensive press coverage. She is well known for her statement that "patriotism is not enough. I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved."

    Natalya Fyodorovna Meklin née Kravtsova (1922-2005), a much decorated WWII combat pilot in one of the 3 women-only Soviet air regiments. She flew 980 night missions by the end of the war. After she graduated from the Military Institute of Foreign Languages as a translator until retiring. Among her many awards was the title Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.

    Joseph Stalin at age 24.

    Lucy Stone - determined that men were reading the Bible in a way to suppress women, she worked her way through school to learn Greek and Latin to prove them wrong. Kept her last name, chopped her hair off, scandalously wore precursors to pants, was kicked out of church for arguing that women had the right to own property and to be able to divorce abusive alcoholic husbands. Considered a true radical for her time, she spoke in public frequently and headed multiple prominent womens organizations.

    Women's barracks in Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp in Poland

    Bessie Coleman, the first female African American civil aviator, received her international pilot's license in France in 1921. She studied in France because no one in the United States, black or white, was willing to teach a black woman to fly.

    Pocahontas (born Matoaka, and later known as Rebecca Rolfe, c. 1595 – March 1617) was a Virginia Indian