Senate OKs Bill to Allow Female Pilots' Ashes at Arlington

WWII pilot Elaine Harmon
WWII pilot Elaine HarmonCourtesy of Erin Miller

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By The Associated Press

The Senate has passed legislation to allow female World War II pilots known as WASPs to continue placing their ashes at Arlington National Cemetery.

By voice vote Tuesday, senators approved the bill, which has won support from Republicans and Democrats.

Related: On the Horizon: Female WWII Pilots Closer to Gaining Entry to Arlington Cemetery

The WASPs served in a unit called Women Airforce Service Pilots. They flew noncombat missions to free up male pilots for combat.

WASP pilot Elaine Danforth Harmon, right, greets guests during a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony at the Capitol in 2010 in Washington. The ceremony was held to honor Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP), a pioneering organization of civilian female pilots employed to fly military aircraft under the direction of the U.S Army during World War II.Mark Wilson / Getty Images

During the war, the women were considered civilians. But since 1977, federal law has granted them status as veterans. They had been eligible since 2002 to have their ashes placed at Arlington with military honors. But the Army ruled last year the WASPs never should have been allowed in and revoked their eligibility.

The legislation reverses that decision.

The bill now heads to the House for final consideration.