by Jess Clackum
Meet Karen Fine Brasch, USN CDR, ret. First Female Helicopter Pilot in Her Navy Search & Rescue Squadron, HS-8:
"I wasn't there when the WASPs changed the history of aviation for women, but I was in Navy flight school when women were told they could fly in combat. I joined the Nimitz Battle Group the following year and we made a full deployment with women flying. If I remember correctly, there were about 200 women on board out of about 6000 men. Of those 200, there were 14 women aviators across all of the squadrons.
I was there as the first female pilot in my USN SH-60F/H Search and Rescue/Combat /Search and Rescue/Anti-Submarine Warfare squadron. I was there as one of the first two female flight instructors at a USMC helicopter squadron training the first female UH-1N Huey helicopter pilots (along with training the male aviators).
I was there.
I was there to take advantage of all of the sacrifices and heroic efforts of the WASP. I was one of the many because of the few. Their opportunities became my opportunities. It was an honor and a privilege to fly for the US Navy and I salute all of the women who came before me and all who follow.
Someone once asked me what made me think I could be a Navy pilot? I answered without hesitation, "Because it never occurred to me that I couldn't be..." And that's how I truly felt.
And I owe that to the WASP.
I hope their story gets told."