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Gleanna Roberts was born in Sharon Township, Iowa on January 11, 1919. She was the daughter of Robert and Elizabeth Roberts. She grew up on a farm near Iowa City. Roberts graduated from Sharon High and then enrolled in the University of Iowa. She graduated in 1940 with a degree in Journalism.
She then worked as a reporter for both the Cedar Rapids Tribune and the Moline Dispatch. While she was residing in Moline, she took flight training and garnered 65 hours of flight time. She received her pilot's license, and decided to join the WASP in June, 1944.
She was sent to Avenger Field, Texas, to complete her flight training, and was assigned to the Class 44-W-9. She had been there less than a month when she was scheduled for a solo flight on June 20. After take-off, the aircraft made a steep turn. The aircraft stalled, and Roberts evidently could not regain control. The aircraft nosed down and the left wing struck the ground. The aircraft then cartwheeled and was demolished.
Roberts' body was recovered and was escorted home by one of her classmates. She was buried in the Welsh Cemetery in Johnson County, Iowa, near Sharon.
Gleanna Roberts' career as a WASP lasted less than three weeks.
Gleanna Roberts was flying PT-17 # 42-16211 when she was killed.
The women who became WASP had no military rank. They were actually part of Civil Service. They were paid $150 per month while in training, and $250 per month when on active duty. They were normally given the privileges equal to those accorded a 2nd Lieutenant, although they had to pay for their own food, lodging, and uniforms. They received no travel pay, and in the case of Gleanna Roberts, the costs of transporting her body home and escort duties were assumed by the family and the escorts.
Public Law 95-202, enacted in 1977, gave veteran status to WASP, and also extended all veteran benefits to them. In 1984, they were awarded the World War 2 Victory Medal, and those who had served for one year were awarded the American Campaign Medal.
In 2010, these women were awarded, and presented, the Congressional Gold Medal, both individually, and as a unit. Special grave markers were placed on the graves of those who had passed away.