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At its inception in 1948, WAF was limited to 4,000 enlisted women and 300 female officers.Women were encouraged to fill many different roles but were not to be trained as pilots, even though the United States Army Air Corps had graduated their first class of female pilots in April 1943 under wartime conditions.African-American recruits joined the WAFs in greater numbers in 1949 when basic training for women was desegregated in the USAF.Integration of quarters and mess was slower in coming. Wilson started as a Private at Lackland then steadily moved up the ranks.
Some male USAF commanders were interested in the good results obtained by using women in air defense control centers, passenger air transport operations and in data processing and analysis. Riley linked forces with Army Colonel Mary Louise Milligan (WAC) to work with the Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) in a successful attempt to retroactively grant active military service status (and its benefits) to former WAACs (Women's Auxiliary Air Corps) who had served in World War II and had also been in WAC, WAF or one of the other women's services.Wilson, writing as "Captain Barb", maintains a website with information about women in all branches of the military: Women Military Veterans: Yesterday—Today—Tomorrow.The first African-American female brigadier general of the USAF was Marcelite J. Harris took OTS at Lackland in 1966, after traveling with a USO tour to military bases in Germany and France.Jacqueline Cochran, who had volunteered in the RAF and had demonstrated solid leadership in greatly expanding the WASP program, was similarly directed to join the Reserves in 1948 within which she rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1969.Female pilots in the Reserves were classified as federal civilian employees, not active military personnel.