Marion R. Tibbetts was born January 5, 1915, in Whitman, Massachusetts to Rayman and Mabel Taber Tibbetts. She had on older sister. Even though Claire was 10 years older than Marion, the sisters had a very close relationship. Marion fell in love with flying at an early age. Her interest in flying goes back to the early 1930s when she was a student at Whitman High. Her English teachers must have been awfully tired of reading compositions about aviation. On July 4, 1936, she began flying lessons with her sister at Hanover Airport near Boston. To save money for flying lessons, she worked for New England Mutual Life Agency. In December 1938 she passed her tests for a civilian pilot’s license. After that, she flew heavy and light planes in all kinds of weather and earned a reputation as one of the best women pilots in Massachusetts. In 1941, Marion qualified as a member of the disaster squadron for the American Red Cross, which was formed to fly food and clothing to stricken communities.
At the age of 28, Marion entered the WASP training program on April 25, 1943. She graduated with class 44-W-6 on October 9, 1943, and was assigned to Romulus, Michigan. The Romulus assignment began her exciting and often dangerous job with the Ferrying Division of the Air Transport Command. Later she was assigned to Greenville Army Base Greenville, Mississippi, until the WASP program was disbanded on December 20, 1944.
Marion returned home and decided to join the Air Force Reserve after receiving a letter from the Department of the Air Force Headquarters on April 15, 1949. The letter set forth a policy whereby former WASP could apply for appointment in the United States Air Force Reserve. Marion joined as First Lieutenant and was stationed in Izenorton, England for three years (1951-1954) with the food service squadron. Marion returned to the United States and was promoted to Captain in 1956. During her service in Air Force, Marion was stationed in Izenorton AFB England, Itazuke AFB Japan, Spangdahlem AFB Germany, Chanute AFB Illinois, England AFB Louisiana, Webb AFB Texas, and Sheppard AFB Texas. While stationed in Germany she was Chief of the military personnel division of the 49th Tactical Flight Wing and with the 7149th Combat Support Group.
Marion retired in May 1971 as a Major from the Air Force and bought a 25’ travel trailer to tour about the south in order to locate a “settle down” spot. In August, she got as far as Bryan College Station. Texas. She loved it and settled down. Marion had no trouble finding part-time work as a Red Cross volunteer. In 1976 Marion moved to Lago, Florida to live with her sister Claire.
Written by: Ann Haub | Collections Director
Photos courtesy: National WASP WWII Museum Archives
Partner with the WASP Archive in achieving its mission to collect, protect, preserve and provide access to materials that chronicle the WASP story, its legacy, and the personal and professional lives of its pilots. New artifacts are always welcome. Please call Ann Haub at 325-235-0099 or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.