I’ve known Marie Genaro a long time. We’ve been good friends and shared a lot of camaraderie during WASP trips, and even tennis after I talked her into joining the Courtyard. But I didn’t know Marie Muccie. Marie Genaro was reserved about her achievements. She was not a braggart. If she had been she could have pulled rank on me any time because Marie Muccie was one of the elite Womens Airforce Service Pilots, who proved to all the skeptics that as General Arnold said “Young women can fly wing-tip-to-wing-tip with their brothers in the sky.” She was in one of the first groups to enter the WASP program as class 43-2. Marie and her classmates performed their ferrying jobs so well that other flying areas were opened up to those of us followed even after the requirements for applying were lowered.
When Marie entered, the program was in its infancy. The first classes were based (at Houston Municipal Airport) in Houston. There were no accommodations, they lived in the Oleander Motel, were bussed to the field and flew a hodgepodge of planes. There were no uniforms and it was so secret they were instructed to tell anyone who asked that they were a girls basketball team.
The Houston weather and fog were constant hazards, the instructors didn’t really want to be teaching girls-- but those determined girls endured and flew and flew.
Marie told me about an incident when she was shooting touch-and-go landings. On one pass the BT-13 began vibrating so violently she was thrown against her parachute harness. Then she saw smoke coming out of the engine. She radioed the Tower and told them about the vibration and smoke and she was coming in for an emergency landing. She was told not to land but to climb another 1000 feet and bail out. Reluctantly she pulled back on the stick and gained altitude, but when she looked out into the darkness below, she decided, she’d rather take her chances on landing. So she radioed in and said “Clear the field, I’m landing.” The tower operator gave her the OK but told her to get out and run as soon as she did because the plane might explode. Fortunately it didn’t but the mechanic who checked the engine told her there was only one bolt holding the engine to the plane. Then her instructor said she had to get into another plane and go back up. It was a rule.
When Jackie Cochran finally got permission to move the school to Avenger Field, Marie’s class had already finished their training, so they flew the planes to their new base in Sweetwater, Texas. There they got their wings on May 28, 1943, as the first class to graduate from Avenger.
Marie was sent to New Castle Air Base, Wilmington, Delaware and assigned to the Ferry Command. The pilots flew commercial airlines to the factory where they “bought” the plane then flew it to the base where it was assigned. There they “sold” it to the Army, and returned to New Castle. If a girl got back before midnight, she went out again the next morning.
Usually several girls went to the same factory and Marie was a Flight Leader for the formation to the base. This meant that she filed the flight plan and took care of all the details. They frequently had to RON and were unable to find rooms on the base so sleeping arrangements were a real problem. Sometimes it was on the floor in the Ready Room at the base.
From Wilmington, she was transferred to Fairfax Field in Kansas City, and subsequently to Love Field in Dallas. She flew all the basic and advanced trainers, logged many hours in B-25 twin-engine bombers and pursuit planes. Each of these planes had been tested only once before the WASP picked it up and often problems developed en route. 38 WASPs died in action and many of them were in the Ferry command.
It was a very brief part of Marie’s long life, but one she cherished.
I am proud to have been her friend------ in spite of the fact that petite Marie could still wear her original WASP uniform.