Bobelle Sconiers Harrell, a daughter of Northwest Florida, who wouldn’t take no for an answer during the most trying time in recent history, was part of the Civil Air Patrol, now receiving a prestigious award, the Congressional Gold Medal. Harrell is being recognized with the rest of the CAP posthumously, sometime in the coming months represented by her daughter.
“She wanted to graduate early from school, and she did. She wanted to be a pharmacist, and she did. She wanted to learn to fly and she did. She wanted to own her own pharmacy one day. And she did,” said her daughter Tracy Ward, Milton.
Ward said her mother made decisions and saw them through. Ward said her mother married her first husband Ewart Sconiers after high school. “The last she saw of him was on the airplane shipping out,” said Ward. Sconiers was a hero bombardier, saving many lives before his plane went down over Poland. He was a captured German POW. He died January 21, 1944 while she was in school. “Before he left he told my mother to go on to college and get her degree as they planned. But despite the hardship she went to what was then Alabama Polytechnic Institute which would eventually become Auburn University. She was the first graduating female pharmacist in that institution and graduated with the highest honors,” said Ward. It was during her time in Anniston Alabama, working in a pharmacy that she decided she wanted to fly, said Ward.
“Her first solo flight was April 5, 1945,” said Ward. Ward has a treasure from her mother, which is a hand written journal of her time learning to fly.
Ward shared an excerpt, reading:
“With all the hours behind us we are doing landings and take offs now. Nine-four is my plane. I like it because it won’t bounce.”
Ward said her mother earned her pilot’s license August 20, 1945. It was just after reaching this goal she joined the Civil Air Patrol.
Ward said her mother met her father while working in Moulton’s Pharmacy in Pensacola. “She was the first woman pharmacist in Northwest Florida,” said Ward. “I’m one of five girls,” she said. “And we all learned how to work.” Her parents built and operated Harrell’s Drug Store in what is now called Brentwood Shopping Center. Her parents owned the store from 1956 through 1982. Although not a lot is recorded about women pilots serving their country, Ward said because she has proof of her service, her mother will receive the honor.
“They (women in Civil Air Patrol) served this country too. They kept the home front going, participating in wartime missions and were armed to protect,” said Ward.
She said it’s sad her mother will not be able to receive it herself as she died two years ago. “She died February 6, 2012,” said Ward.
More information was uncovered about Sconiers, said Ward and they’re trying to bring him home. “My mother never knew the truth of what happened to him. She thought he was buried in a mass grave. Recently, they’ve found him, revealing that wasn’t the case and will bring him home soon,” she said.
More information about the Congressional Gold Medal can be found at http://capmembers.com/cap_national_hq/goldmedal/.