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Memorial Day observance at Otis Memorial Park to include ceremony honoring Frances Fortune Grimes

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MARCOA Media
Story by Timothy Sandland on 05/02/2019
The host units of Joint Base Cape Cod will join with the Otis Civilian Advisory Council to hold a ceremony honoring Frances Fortune Grimes during its annual Memorial Day Observance here on Thursday, May 23, 2019 at 2:30 pm.

The event commemorates all men and women who have died in military service for the United States.

Frances Fortune Grimes was a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilot program. WASP aviators were US federal civil service employees attached to the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II but were not recognized as veterans during the time of their service.

Grimes was assigned to Otis Airfield, Cape Cod Mass., for aerial operations in the RA-24B dive bomber. On March 27, 1944, shortly after takeoff, her aircraft experienced a stall and began to spin, crashing to the ground.

Grimes was killed in the accident.

Born in Deer Park, Maryland, Grimes was a graduate of West Virginia University, and the University of Pittsburg. She entered the WASP program in January 1943 at Ellington Field in Houston, Texas, and began her flight training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, on January 15, 1943. She completed her training as part of the class 43-W-3 on July, 3, 1943, and was designated a ferry pilot assigned to Love Field in Dallas. From there she served at Camp Davis, North Carolina, before arriving at Otis Field on December 15, 1943.

Grimes was 32-years-old at the time of her death.

Three other WASP pilots were also serving at Otis Field at the time of Grimes' passing. Shirley Ingalls, Mildred A. Toner and Mary L. Leatherbee, all served as pallbearers at Grimes' funeral held at Camp Edwards.

Numbering just over a thousand strong, WASPs had a significant impact on the war effort. In addition to assignment as ferry pilots, they also towed targets for anti-aircraft practice and were involved in the testing for the first drone programs the United States used during the war.

In all, thirty-eight WASP members lost their lives.

In 1977, President Carter signed legislation providing Veterans status for WASPs qualifying them for benefits offered by the Veterans Administration. On July 1, 2009, WASPs were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Barack Obama.

Otis Civilian Advisory Council, Inc., founded in 1947, is an organization of civilian and military members committed to establishing communication and understanding between the military units assigned to Joint Base Cape Cod and their neighbors. In 1969, the OCAC built Otis Memorial Park to honor 50 fallen military personnel that had perished in three different crashes while assigned to Otis Air Force Base and Camp Edwards. It also honors military members who died in service to their nation.

Spanning 22,000 acres, Joint Base Cape Cod is a full-scale, joint-use base that is home to five major military commands that operate and train for missions at home and overseas in a partnership between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and others. The Soldiers, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and civilian employees of JBCC conduct airborne search and rescue, cyber and traditional intelligence, ballistic missile early warning, cyber engineering and installation, expeditionary medical support as well as training on these and in many other areas that prepare service members for operational assignments overseas as well as here at home, serving and protecting the Commonwealth and the nation.

The ceremony is open to the media. All media representatives interested in attending must register with the 102nd IW Public Affairs office by emailing usaf.ma.102-iw.mbx.pa@mail.mil not later than 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. Media will use the Bourne Gate and arrive by 2:00 p.m on the day of the ceremony.

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