Rader never asked to be recognized, and it took her many years to tell the story of her wartime service. As she recounted in an interview a few years ago, while working undercover Rader evaded Soviet agents while on a mission to transport sensitive documents. Had she been captured, she likely would have been arrested and never heard from again, Rader explained.
Stephanie Czech Rader’s friends and family gathered Wednesday morning at the Old Post Chapel, next to Arlington National Cemetery, to pay her one last honor.
Shortly after guests began to arrive, a horse-drawn carriage accompanied by 8 soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment carried Rader’s casket, draped with the U.S. flag, to section 11 of the cemetery for her internment. There are around 30 funerals every day at Arlington. Few receive an honorary flyover, as Rader’s did, along with a military band, a firing party, and a bugler.
But in addition to those full military burial honors, Rader was bestowed with an award 70 years in the making—the Legion of Merit, among the military’s highest recognitions for bravery and exceptional service.
Rader’s superior officers had nominated for her for the award in 1946. But the military bureaucracy of the time apparently didn’t think her service merited distinction.
Today, the powers that be say otherwise.
There was no legitimate reason why this commendation was denied, other than the pervasive gender discrimination which existed in the early days of the American intelligence community right after World War II
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, Rader’s home state, said last month in announcing that the Army had decided to grant the award. Warner intervened on Rader’s behalf after her friends mounted a campaign to get her the award, even if it came seven decades late.
Read More: The Daily Beast
Featured Image – Molly Riley/AP – The Daily Beast