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WASP photos on eBay: Julie E. Ledbetter Class 43-5, 9/11/43, LTC US Army


gwb123
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Every now and then, you can find something of historical significance on eBay.

 

For example... I was doing a search for "Women Air Force Photo".   I've been primarily looking for photographs of women who served in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.

 

Usually, the results are pretty minimal.  But then there popped up two listings for "Lot Of Old Photographs Of Women’s United States Air Force 1941".

 

That piqued my interest.  At first I thought they might be for female contract flight instructors given the date. 

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After closer examination, I realized what I was looking at.

 

These were photos from the personal album of a Women's Air Service Pilot, Julie E. Ledbetter  Class 43-5.

 

I believe the back of this one was marked "Class 5W".  I am not sure if this was a parade or a graduation ceremony.

Wasp 10.jpg

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This is the graduation photo of Julie Ledbetter.  Her full WWII background can be read here.  https://waspfinalflight.blogspot.com/2013/08/julia-e-ledbetter-43-w-5-august-6-2013.html

 

She apparently spent most of her flight time with B-17's.

 

She would later become a commissioned officer in the US Army with an eventual 26 years of service including Cold War Vienna.

ledbetter-julie.jpg

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Eventually this would lead to certification on the B-17.

 

It's hard to tell due to the distance, but this appears to be Ms. Ledbetter hanging onto the prop.

 

This is an interesting aircraft photo.  Please note that there is no ball turret, nor is there one above the cockpit.  Also notice what appear to be two sets of training numbers, one painted over the other on the nose.   All of this points to a Stateside training aircraft.  (39 under 71),

 

Also note that the tail and the fuselage show sighns of an early splotch camouflage patter.  

Wasp 25.jpg

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Going back to training days, there were a couple of photos of her fellow classmates.

 

I am reading these names as follows, with later married names in parenthesis:

 

Virginia M. Broome (Waterer) Class 43-6, 10/9/43

 

Charlotte Mitchell (Carl)  Class 43-5, 9/11/43,

 

Blanch V.  Osborne (Bross) Class 43-6, 10/9/43

 

Ann Waldner (Currier) Class 43-6, 10/9/43

 

Margaret “Peg” Kirchner  (Stevensen)  Class 43-6, 10/9/43

 

Dawn Y. Rochow  (Seymour) Class 43-6, 10/9/43

 

This website helped match the names to their class information.   https://www.wwii-women-pilots.org/rosters.html

 

Note that while the coats are somewhat uniform, the shoes and trousers are not.

Wasp 20.jpg

Wasp 21.jpg

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If some of these names are familiar, it is because some of these pilots showed up in a later well known publicity photograph:

 

"WASP (from left) Frances Green, Margaret Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn leave their B-17, called Pistol Packin’ Mama, during ferry training at Lockbourne Army Air Force base in Ohio. They’re carrying their parachutes. (National Archives)"

 

https://www.heroeshomeadvantage.com/women-airforce-service-pilots/

 

Note that the previously shown B-17 appeared to have a marking of "71" while this one has "70" on the forward fuselage. 

Wasp 70.jpg

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Another classmate photo that was unfortunately not identified.

 

I am wondering if Ms. Ledbetter is one of the two women on the right.

 

Note the temporary training buildings in the background.

Wasp 120.jpg

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In some ways this is the best photo of the lot.

 

According to Ms. Ledbetter's biography, there is a good chance this photograph was taken at Fort Meyers, Florida, "where she flew student gunnery crews in B-17’s as they received their air-to-air gunnery training."

 

Identified here are 

 

Patricia A.  Bowser  (Gibson)  Class 43-6, 10/9/43, later 2LT USAFR.

 

Helen Detttweiler  Class 43-5, 9/11/43

 

The woman standing  is wearing her WASP pilot wing along with collar insignia and a beret with an insignia device.  She is wearing a knee length skirt, in contrast to her friend who is wearing slacks.  The seated woman appears to also be wearing her wing, and a shoulder sleeve insignia, presumably the general USAAF patch.

 

Wasp 110.jpg

Wasp 115.jpg

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As for this lot of photos, I am sorry to say I was unsuccessful in winning both lots.  From what the vendor said, there may have been others as well.

 

After her service time LTC Ledbetter retired to Virginia, and later passed away after an enventful life in 2013.  She was 92 years young.

 

As for these photos, the vendor reported picking up the scrapbook a couple of years ago while visiting in Virginia.  The vendor was from Alaska, and that had me somewhat confused at first as to where Ms. Ledbetter may have settled.  

 

So I present this in tribute to LTC Ledbetter and the memories she held of her service time, as well as proof that there really are historicall significant items to be found out there.

 

Feel free to add to the thread!

 

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cutiger83

Wonderful pictures! Those look like graduation pictures not parade pictures. They look exactly like some I have seen in books. I am wondering if they were stock photos that the graduates could purchase.  

 

Thanks for posting these! The WASPS are by far my favorite group!!...Kat

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On 9/5/2021 at 11:22 PM, gwb123 said:

In some ways this is the best photo of the lot.

 

According to Ms. Ledbetter's biography, there is a good chance this photograph was taken at Fort Meyers, Florida, "where she flew student gunnery crews in B-17’s as they received their air-to-air gunnery training."

 

Identified here are 

 

Patricia A.  Bowser  (Gibson)  Class 43-6, 10/9/43, later 2LT USAFR.

 

Helen Detttweiler  Class 43-5, 9/11/43

 

The woman standing  is wearing her WASP pilot wing along with collar insignia and a beret with an insignia device.  She is wearing a knee length skirt, in contrast to her friend who is wearing slacks.  The seated woman appears to also be wearing her wing, and a shoulder sleeve insignia, presumably the general USAAF patch.

 

Wasp 110.jpg

Wasp 115.jpg

To me, the woman standing looks alot like the woman in coveralls in the previous picture.

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5 hours ago, cutiger83 said:

Wonderful pictures! Those look like graduation pictures not parade pictures. They look exactly like some I have seen in books. I am wondering if they were stock photos that the graduates could purchase.  

 

Thanks for posting these! The WASPS are by far my favorite group!!...Kat

 

I think you are probably correct as far as the graduation the photos.  The rest were taken individually.

 

I am wondering if there had been other photos as well.  The seller implied as such. 

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