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 Hazel Wilfred <I>Pracht</I> Caldwell

Hazel Wilfred Pracht Caldwell

Birth
Lake Alma, Weyburn Census Division, Saskatchewan, Canada
Death 3 Feb 2013 (aged 94)
South Carolina, USA
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 111897076 · View Source
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Hazel was born to American parents. The family eventually grew to include three brothers and one sister.

When she was 8 years old, she told her father that she wanted be a pilot or a doctor, and move south for warmer weather. She was so determined to fulfill her dream, once she was old enough, she not only worked as a waitress, she sold vegetables from a cart to earn money to pay for flying lessons. She persevered until earning her private and commercial pilot licenses.

When she heard about a new Army Air Force training program to teach qualified women pilots to fly military aircraft, she immediately applied and was accepted into Class 43-W-4. She paid her way to Avenger Field, Sweetwater, Texas, to enter training with 151 other young women pilots. After undergoing the same six months of rigorous training as male candidate pilots, she and 111 of her classmates graduated on August 7, 1943. She received her silver wings. She was a WASP.

Her Army orders directed her to the Sixth Ferry Group at Long Beach, California, where Hazel ferried aircraft from the factories to points of embarkation. Then, she transferred to La Junta Army Air Field, Colorado to fly B-25's as part of the B-25 transition training school.

After the WASP were disbanded in December 1944, she ferried planes in the New York area and earned her flight instructor's license. She taught flying at Bucks Airport near Bridgeton, New Jersey.

She finally flew south and landed a job with Delta Airlines as a radio operator in Columbia, South Carolina. Eventually, she was hired by Delta as a flight instructor. She met William Arnold "Bill" Caldwell there, one of her students. Two years later, Bill and Hazel married and she became a full-time mother, raising three daughters.

After the girls were in college, Hazel enrolled in the Baptist Medical Center's practical nursing school. She worked nights and earned her RN degree from the University of South Carolina in 1978. Four years later, Hazel was honored as "RN of 1982." She continued working at the Baptist Medical center until she retired in 1992.

In 2010, the US Congress awarded the WASP, including Hazel, the Congressional Gold Medal for their service during WWII, the highest civilian honor bestowed by that body.

She was once asked what her favorite days were. She replied, "Super Bowl Sunday and New Years Eve." It was on Super Bowl Sunday that Hazel quietly slipped off to sleep and took her last flight.

She was preceded in death by her parents, sister, three brothers, and a daughter. She is survived by two daughters, their husbands, a son-in-law, nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

God bless her family and all of those who were touched by this amazing lady. By Nancy Parrish.


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  • Created by: PerseidsGirl
  • Added: 6 Jun 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 111897076
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Hazel Wilfred Pracht Caldwell (29 Jul 1918–3 Feb 2013), Find A Grave Memorial no. 111897076, ; Maintained by PerseidsGirl (contributor 47740091) Unknown.