TROY — The WACO Air Museum and Learning Center hosted Sue Hill Norrod and Col. Cassie Barlow, USAF (ret.) on Thursday, co-authors of “Saluting Our Grandmas: Women of WWII.” The co-authors’ appearance was part of WACO’s ongoing lecture series on aviation history.
Norrod has been a teacher for 24 years, and is currently an educator for East Dayton Christian School, with experience ranging from middle school history to elementary art.
Col. Barlow was the 88th Air Base Wing and Installation Commander at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. She retired from active duty with the United States Air Force as colonel in 2014. She is now the director of the Aerospace Professional Development Center (APDC) at the Southwestern Ohio Council on Higher Education in Dayton.
Barlow and Norrod presented their book, first published in May 2017, which represents multiple branches of the military and follows four true stories of women through boot camp and their time of service during World War II.
The book was concieved as a passion project by Norrod, due to her love of history and her desire to pay tribute to her recently deceased mother, who was a member of the WAVES, or Woman Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, during World War II.
In their presentation, Barlow and Norrod chronicled the wartime history of Norrod’s mother, Pauline, and the various roles that she and other women took to contribute to the war, including the WAVES, the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), and the women’s nurses division. Barlow also touched upon life on the home front during wartime, chronicling rationing efforts and a rise in the women’s domestic labor force, as well as the origins of the Honor Flight Network.
“It was interesting as I was doing this research to note just how much ladies did to contribute to where we are now,” Barlow said. “I joined the service in the late ’80s, and didn’t really understand at that time what the women had done before me to pave the way for women in the military.
“In my time in the military, I was lucky enough to serve as a fellow squadron commander with the first air force female squadron commander. I was also lucky enough to serve with the first female four-star general. She was actually my boss. Women have really worked hard, and that was something I learned first-hand during my time in the military.”
“This has been a miracle for me, not only to meet Dr. Barlow, but for us to get to work together,” Norrod said. “It’s been a passionate topic for me for so long. All these women just contributed so many stories to our research, and when Dr. Barlow got involved, it just exploded. It’s just been a really great experience.”
“Saluting Our Grandmas: Women of WWII” is now available on Amazon.
For more information, visit www.wacoairmuseum.org.