Women Air Force Service Pilot (WASP) Deanie Parrish believed that if boys could learn to fly, so could she. During World War II, she convinced an Army Air Corps flight instructor to teach her how. Parrish learned of a new Army Air Forces program to teach women pilots to fly military aircraft. In 1943, she graduated and received her silver Women Air Force Service Pilot (WASP) wings. “The training we received was the same as the boys, except we learned more about cross country flying and they learned more about acrobatics,” Parrish said. Her first assignment was as an engineering test pilot in BT-13s and UC-78s. After that she transferred to flying B-26s at Tyndall AFB, Fla., as an air-to-air tow target pilot to train gunners for combat. Parrish continued to fly from Tyndall until the WASPs were disbanded December 20, 1944.
Over the past 15 years, Parrish has been very active in preserving the history and legacy of the WASP. She has traveled to more than 19 states and interviewed over 100 WASPS. She co-founded the National WASP WWII Museum at Avenger Field, Texas and the WASP “Fly Girls” traveling exhibit. She was instrumental in convincing Congress to award the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal, and was chosen to receive the medal on behalf of all WASP during a U.S. Capitol ceremony.