[Clipping: Rooney Atkeison at the WASP Reunion] Part: 1 of 2
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Rooney Atkeison is shown with an AT-6 trainer
at Perrin Field in Sherman, where she was assigned
after her 1944 graduation.
Jacqueline Cochran's training program. There
was an interview at the Baker Hotel in Dallas,
then a wait. To pass the time, she accepted a
teaching job at Munday High School. Then she
took a battery of tests, waited some more and
had a physical examination at Sheppard Air
Force Base at Wichita Falls, with 300 male ca-
dets. Finally, in April of 1944 she was ordered
to Avenger Field.
Now the parade neared Broadway and
Locust streets. Four jets from Bergstrom Air
Force Base at Austin thundered by in airborne
salute. The women looked skyward, misty-
eyed, and they waved. A moment later, Rooney
spotted her mother, Mrs. R. D. Atkeison, a smil-
ing figure standing on the courthouse lawn,
shielding herself from the sun with an umbrella.
On the 1944 spring day that she reported,
her mother had driven her to Sweetwater from
Munday, the daughter terribly excited, the
mother near tears at the thought of her daughter
going "off to war." They said their goodbys in
front of the Bluebonnet Hotel and Mrs. Atkeison
watched as Rooney climbed aboard an unat-
tractive open van that a civilian contractor at
Avenger Field used to transport the WASP
cadets. The girls called it "the cattle truck."
The parade was passing the Bluebonnet
Hotel site now, but the hotel was gone, burned,
and a parking lot had taken its place.
On Tine Street, the parade turned north for
a block, then west on Third. And in four more
blocks, the parade was over.
That's the way it had been in 1944 -
fleeting. There had been a war on. As the cliche
goes, it had been a popular war, and the WASPS
had wanted to make a contribution. But if
Rooney Atkeison had said it once she had said
it a half-dozen times during this three-day reun-
ion: "We just wanted one thing. We wanted to
And to the surprise of many a male Army
Air Force pilot, that they did. And they had
come to Sweetwater one more time with their
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Sunday, September 10, 1972
Here’s what’s next.
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[Clipping: Rooney Atkeison at the WASP Reunion], clipping, September 10, 1972; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth1009965/m1/1/: accessed December 10, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting National WASP WWII Museum.