Women Airforce Service Pilots to be Honored with 2023 Omar N. Bradley Spirit of Independence Award


SHREVEPORT, La. (Nov. 16, 2023) – Presenting one of the nation’s most outstanding and decorated citizens and groups with the Omar N. Bradley Spirit of Independence Award is one of the proudest annual traditions of the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl. The bowl will be honoring the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) with this award at the 47th Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl on Saturday, December 16.

“These amazing women did what they loved by stepping up to serve their country during a time of great need. The WASP flew out of the blue and into history making it possible for today’s women pilots to chart their own course. Their legacy of confidence, courage, and commitment to our nation stands as a testament that inspires and motivates people of all ages. As General Henry ‘Hap’ Arnold said, ‘you and…your sisters have shown that you can fly wingtip to wingtip with your brothers. If ever there was a doubt in anyone’s mind that women can become skillful pilots, the WASP have dispelled that doubt.’ The Women Airforce Service Pilots are honored to receive the 2023 Omar N. Bradley Spirit of Independence Award,” said Kimberly Johnson, Director of Special Collections, at Texas Woman’s University. TWU has served as the official archive for the WASP since 1992.

The WASP were a civilian women pilots’ organization whose members became trained pilots. They tested aircraft, ferried aircraft, and trained other pilots during World War II. Their service allowed male pilots to be freed for combat duties during World War II. 

“We are very proud to be honoring the Women Airforce Service Pilots with the prestigious Omar N. Bradley Spirit of Independence Award this year,” said 2023 Independence Bowl Foundation Chairman Bryan Roppolo. “The WASP veterans were an integral part of the war efforts during World War II, and they are outstanding Americans. We look forward to welcoming and honoring their immediate family members at the 2023 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl.”

On August 5, 1943, the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) and the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), the two pioneering organizations of civilian women pilots, merged to create WASP. From then until December 20, 1944, the WASP flew over 60 million miles, transported every type of military aircraft, towed targets for live anti-aircraft gun practice and simulated strafing missions and transported cargo. 

Their duties were paramount in the combat efforts of the United States Army Air Forces, as WASP freed around 900 male pilots for combat duties. Women pilots flew 80 percent of all ferrying missions during the war and delivered over 12,000 aircraft. 

During the 17 months of their arrangement with the US Army Air Forces, 38 WASP members lost their lives, and one member, Gertrude Tompkins, disappeared while on a ferry mission. Her fate is still unknown to this day. In 1977, 33 years after they served during World War II, the members of WASP were granted veteran status, but their highest honor came in 2009 when they were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

Immediate family members of WASP members will be at the 2023 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl to accept the Omar N. Bradley Spirit of Independence Award on their behalf. 

The Omar N. Bradley Spirit of Independence Award was established during the Independence Bowl’s second year in 1977 to honor an outstanding citizen or organization who symbolizes the spirit of freedom upon which the United States of America was founded. General Omar N. Bradley, the nation’s only living 5-star general at the time, was the first recipient of the Spirit of Independence Award in 1977.

Since the award’s inception, this honor has been bestowed upon outstanding American citizens and organizations. Some past recipients include John Wayne, Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan and more recently – the Tuskegee Airmen, Berlin Airlift Veterans, Veterans of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, retired Marine Corporal Jacob P. Schick, Brigadier General Jeannie M. Leavitt, retired Air Force General James M. Kowalski, retired Army Lieutenant General Joseph M. Cosumano and the Veterans of Operation Senior Surprise.

The 47th edition of the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl is set for Saturday, December 16 at 8:15 p.m. between the Big 12 Conference and Pac-12 Conference. Various ticket options are on sale now for the Saturday night playing of Shreveport-Bossier’s annual bowl game. Endzone Bench, Sideline Bench and Sideline Chairback tickets are available at RadianceTechnologiesIndependenceBowl.com/tickets. Great ticket packages – including group tickets, Family Four-Packs, Small Business Fan-Packs and premium options – are available online or by calling the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl office at 318.221.0712 or toll-free at 888.414.BOWL.

Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl Week will also feature many free and ticketed events for local and traveling fans of all ages to enjoy. The FCA Breakfast will kick off the public event schedule on Thursday, December 14 at 7:30 a.m. at Riverview Hall. The following night, the eve of the 2023 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl, local and traveling fans will all gather in the East Bank District for the free Rally on the Red. The Rally on the Red will feature four free events from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, December 15. Finally, on game day on Saturday, December 16, the week of public events will culminate with Coca-Cola Fan Fest from 12-7:30 p.m. in the Silver Lot outside of Independence Stadium – leading fans into the 8:15 p.m. kickoff of the 47th Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl.

Fans can plan their trip to Shreveport for the 2023 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl at www.FindYourLouisiana.com. For information on Independence Stadium rules and the clear bag policy, please visit RadianceTechnologiesIndependenceBowl.com/stadium-rules/.


Established in 1976, the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl™ is college football’s 11th most-historic bowl game – celebrating its 47th edition on Saturday, December 16, 2023 at 8:15 p.m. CT with a matchup of the Big 12 Conference and Pac-12 Conference on ESPN. The Independence Bowl Foundation announced a one-year extension with Radiance Technologies – ensuring they will be the title sponsor through 2025. The bowl’s conference, team, and television agreements also run through the 2025 season. Army West Point and the Big 12 are slated to match up against a rotation of the Pac-12 Conference, American Athletic Conference and Conference USA, which will be televised on an ESPN network.

The Independence Bowl Foundation is prevalent in the Shreveport-Bossier City area throughout the year, hosting events to help enhance the economic impact and growth of our community. The Mission of the Independence Bowl is to attract and provide quality, nationally recognized football competition oriented to the Ark-La-Tex region. For more information, visit RadianceTechnologiesIndependenceBowl.com or follow the bowl on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @IndyBowl.

Independence Bowl Foundation

P.O Box 1723, Shreveport LA 71166  |  401 Market Street, Shreveport, LA 71101  |  318.221.0712

2024 Independence Bowl