Marie Mountain Clark
February 8, 1915 – October 2, 2008
Training Location: Avenger Field (Sweetwater, Tex.)
Assigned Bases: Las Vegas Army Air Field (Nev.)
Planes flown: PT-19, BT-13, AT-6, AT-10, B-17, B-26, P-39
Marie Mountain Clark was born in a small farm house at West Liberty, Iowa, and spent her childhood in West Des Moines, Iowa, where her father established the Iowanola Diary for the breeding of pure-bred Guernsey cattle. She was a retired flute teacher and performer having served as Principal Flute in the Drake University-Des Moines Symphony Orchestra, the Ann Arbor Symphony and orchestras in the Boston, Massachusetts, area. She performed professionally as a soloist and with Chamber Groups and has taught private students in Ann Arbor and Boston. In 1945-46 she served as the Instructor of Flute in the University of Michigan School of Music and in the summer of 1946 was a student at the Tanglewood Music Festival. Marie is a graduate in Music from Drake University and completed Graduate Studies in Music at the University of Michigan. During her high school days, she was both a National Champion and Iowa State champion in flute performance.
During the Second World War Marie completed U.S. Air Force pilot training with the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASP). Following graduation in February 1944 she was assigned as a pilot with the U.S. Air Force, accumulating about 1000 hours in military aircraft, including the PT-19, BT-13, AT-11 and AT-6 training aircraft, the P-39 and P-63 fighter aircraft and as a copilot in the B-17 and B-26 bombers. Her military service was at the Las Vegas (Nevada) Air Force Base where her duties included giving instrument flying instruction to male pilots, flying mock fighter attacks on the B-17 “Flying Fortress” and serving as an engineering test pilot for P-39 and P-63 fighter aircraft. She is a member of the Caterpillar Club, an organization of those military pilots who have made an emergency parachute jump from an aircraft. The WASP were the first women to serve as pilots for the U.S. Air Force and were the pioneers that led the way for women to fly today in all the military services. In 2005 Marie published her World War II memoirs in the autobiography: Dear Mother and Daddy: World War II Letters Home from a WASP.
In 2009 Marie was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously for her service in World War II. The Congressional Gold Medal is awarded by Congress and, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is the highest and most distinguished honor a civilian may receive.
Video of WASP Marie Mountain Clark remembering an unplanned parachute jump during training at Avenger Field.