Elaine Harmon was born on December 26, 1919, in Baltimore, Maryland. She graduated from the University of Maryland in College Park with a bachelor of science degree in microbiology in 1940, and she worked in various hospitals as a lab technician between 1940 and 1944. While at the University of Maryland, she also earned her private pilot's license through the Civilian Pilot Training Program. Elaine then enlisted in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of the U.S. Army Air Forces on April 18, 1944, and received her pilot wings with Class 44-W-9 at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, on November 11, 1944. She was stationed at Las Vegas Army Airfield (now Nellis AFB), Nevada, from November 1944 until the WASP's were disbanded on December 20, 1944, having flown AT-6 Texan trainers, PT-17 Stearman trainers, BT-13 Valiant trainers and B-17 Flying Fortress bombers. The WASPs were given official Military Veteran status in 1977, and they were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on July 1, 2009, honoring their service during World War II. Elaine Harmon died on April 21, 2015, and her remains were on hold for burial at Arlington National Cemetery until a rule change could be made allowing WASPs, who were already granted Veteran status, to be buried at the cemetery. After Congress introduced legislation to grant WASP Veterans inurnment rights at Arlington, Elaine Harmon was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on September 7, 2016.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.