FSHA alumna shares WWII pilot experience

Beverly “Bev” Beesemyer

One of Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy’s oldest alumna at 95, Beverly “Bev” Beesemyer visited the La Cañada Flintridge campus March 12 to speak to students about her experiences as part of the Women Air Service Pilots (WASP) organization during WWII.

Beesemyer, a member of FSHA’s class of ’37, recalled her training in Sweetwater, Texas, close encounters while flying gunnery targets, and the camaraderie of the female pilots in the WASP program, which ran from 1943 until the end of 1944, created so women pilots could free male pilots for military service.

Twice her plane caught on fire while in the air, resulting in emergency landings. Of those harrowing adventures, Beesemyer said, “Even with fire engines racing down the fields as I touched down, I thought it was all kind of fun!”

Though they lived in barracks and received similar military training, the WASPs were considered civilians and they often struggled to finance basic necessities, like uniforms.

As civilians, the women also had to handle tragedies on their own. Beesemyer recounted how, when a WASP was killed while serving, all the women pooled their money together to be able to send the body back to family members.

Denied official recognition for decades, the WASP organization was granted full military status in 1977. In 2010, the WASPs received the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest civilian awards in the United States. Beesemyer was on hand to receive the award presented in Congress’ Rotunda.

“I cried. I really did,” said Beesemyer. “Thousands of people were there. It was very sentimental.”

Beesemyer kept her pilot’s license until the ’80s and confesses to “rubbernecking” anytime a big plane flies by. “It’s impossible to tell you what it’s like flying in the clouds,” she said.

But, her overall message to the students at FSHA was about taking risks. “I was just a little girl with an opportunity,” Beesemyer told the audience. “Be yourself, and do what you want to do, and don’t ever hesitate going gung-ho for what you desire.”


Voices

Seeking the face of God in the Scriptures

Archbishop José H. Gomez

Prayer is seeking the face of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls the story of how St. John Vianney once found a peasant praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The saint asked him what he was doing, and the man replied: “I look at him and he looks at me.”

Events

February 2016
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

February 14, 2016

  • Sunday, February 14

    Mother Cabrini Library and Chapel Open House, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., 3801 Scott Road, Burbank. The event is hosted by the Los Angeles Region.

     

    Italian Catholic Club of SCV Valentine's Day Dinner Dance, 7 p.m., Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Parish Hall), 23233 Lyons Ave., Newhall. Come enjoy a delicious gourmet buffet dinner and dance the night away to the music of Linda Pippin. Wear your favorite red dress, shirt and/or tie. All adults (single or married) are welcome. Tickets are $35 each (prepaid), or $45 at the door. Please call Anna Riggs at (661) 645-7877 to reserve your spot by Feb. 10.

     

    Stations of the Cross, 2 p.m. Calvary Cemetery, 4201 Whittier Boulevard, East Los Angeles. Continuing each Sunday of Lent. For more info, please call Calvary Cemetery: 323-261-3106.

     

    Year of Mercy Mass and Pilgrimage in The Shrine of St. John Paul II, 3 p.m., Our Lady of the Bright Mount Church, 3424 W. Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles.  Mass celebrated in English with Fr. John Paul Gonzalez of Christ the King Church.  Mass will be followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and confession, with Divine Mercy Chaplet.  The closing prayer will be a blessing and veneration of the 1st class relic of St. John Paul II.  

    South Bay Catholic Co-ed Adult Softball League Pre-Season Practice Games, McMaster Park, 3624 Artesia Blvd., Torrance.  Must RSVP to Fred Lawler (League Commissioner) at (310) 504-0271 or fredlawler@hotmail.com.

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