Polk County

Lt. Madelon Margaret Burcham, Mrs. Jack V. Hill


Texas Bound

Texas bound for 22 weeks of concentrated training in army flying technique are these Des Moines girls, who have enlisted in the women's flying training command for training which leads to pilot's berths in the women's auxiliary ferry service. They are from left: Madelon Burcham, Marie Mountain and Mrs. Jean Sidwell. Upon completion of their training the girls will be schooled in ferrying all types of army planes except heavy bombers.

Source: The DesMoines Tribune, July 29, 1943 (photo included)

Two Des Moines women were graduated recently from the WASPs (Women's Airforce Service Pilots) school at Avenger field, Sweetwater, Tex. They are Madelon M. Burcham, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Thomas A. Burcham, 645 Forty-fourth st., and Marie Mountain, daughter of Mr. and Mrs C.R. Mountain, 1614 Ashworth ave., West Des Moines.

Source: The DesMoines Tribune, February 15, 1944 (photo included)

Dr. and Mrs. Thomas A. Burcham, 645 Forthy-fourth st., announce the marriage of their daughter, Madelon Margaret, to Lieut. Jack V. Hill, son of Mrs. Hester Hill of Medford, Ore.

The wedding took place at 4 p.m. Friday at St. Augustine's chapel. The altar decorations were in lemon yellow and gold arranged with yellow chrysanthemums, yellow gladioli and lemon yellow budlea.

The Rev. F.J. O'Connell performed the ceremony. Both bride and groom wore their respective uniforms, the brie a member of the WASP and the bridegroom as a member of the air forces.

Mrs. Robert J. Tiernan was matron of honor and Bernard Huston of Ottumwa, Ia. was best man. Mrs. Tiernan wore a lime green suit and orchid corsage. Mrs. Burcham wore a beige gabardine suit and orchid corsage.

A supper at the Des Moines club for members of the wedding party followed the ceremony.

The bride was graduated from St. Mary's college of Notre Dame, at South Bend, Ind. She has been a member of the WASP since August, 1943, and is stationed at Las Vegas, Nev.

Lieutenant Hill attended Willamette university at Salem, Ore., and is stationed with the air forces at Las Vegas, where the couple will live.

Out of town wedding guests were Mr. and Mrs. Huston, Mrs. M.J. Moes of Dubuque, Ia., Dr. and Mrs. Earl Bush of Ames, Ia., and Dr. and Mrs. Ben Whittaker of Boone Ia.

Source: The Des Moines Register, September 17, 1944 (bridal couple photo included)

Transcriber Note: I checked the WASP files and she graduated in Class 44-1 as Burcham but later some files read Hill. It also says she was a 1LT, but the paper doesn't mention that.


June 19, 1918 to March, 25 2014

One of 1078…
Madelon Hill, age 95, passed away peacefully on the morning of 25 March surrounded by her family. The matriarch of the Hill family, she was born in Des Moines, IA, and graduated from St. Mary College in Notre Dame, IN, where she developed an interest in aviation. Returning to Des Moines, she attained her private pilot license – against the wishes of her father – as WWII began. Learning of a new Army Air Corps program, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), and demonstrating her direct and pro-active nature, she applied directly to the Chief of Staff for the Army, General George Marshall, who forwarded her letter recommending her for evaluation for acceptance into the program. A leader for the women of the Greatest Generation, she truly was a pioneer, as she completed U.S Army Air Corps military pilot training and became one of only 1078 women to successfully became qualified and rated WASP’s. She became a rated instrument and training pilot for the men being sent into combat overseas, becoming qualified in many of the military aircraft of the time, including the B-17 and B-26. Stationed at Las Vegas Army Field, she met her future husband, best friend and lifelong companion, Jack V. Hill, whom she married just prior to his deployment to the Pacific Theater as a combat B-29 pilot. They were married for almost 69 years until Jack passed away in January of 2013.

A guiding hand, motivator and inspiration to her four children, her two sons, Marty and Tom, shared her passion for aviation and graduated from the US Air Force Academy and US Naval Academy respectfully and both went on to become fighter pilots in their Services; daughter, Margaret married an Air Force fighter pilot and is Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) in Bend, OR; and daughter, Nancy became a long-time, highly respected science teacher at Mountain View High School in Bend, OR. In addition to being survived by her children, she has enjoyed being the grandmother to six grandchildren, Bryan, Lauren, Bradley, Catherine, Douglas, and she is preceded in death by Mathew; and six great-grandchildren, Caitlyn, Mya, Brayden, Gavin, Ethan and Mathew.

Madelon lived a full, amazing, interesting and exciting life, full of adventures and firsts for women of her generation, and carved an inspirational legacy and path for others to follow. She will be missed by all who knew her, but especially by her family.

At present no service is scheduled and in lieu of flowers it is requested donations be forwarded to the Oregon Veterans’ Home or to the Partners in Care Hospice House in Bend, OR. Niswonger-Reynolds Funeral Home was honored to serve the family.

Source: The Des Moines Register, March 30, 2014 (her obituary included photos)