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Waco Woman Recognized for Historic World War II Service

March 10, 2010

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Deannie Parrish was 21 years old when she, like approximately 1100 other young women, enrolled in the service during World War II as a WASP--a woman airforce service pilot--who trained flyers for battle. Their service freed more aviators to serve overseas, while they prepared the men for missions at bases at home. Their service was unique and historical in the male-dominated World War II era military, but as Parrish told NPR's Guy Raz when the Congressional Gold Medal was announced, they were all but forgotten by many for decades.

Their service was deemed controversial and the sealed documents ensured that, at the time, they were not considered members of the military. They were not considered veterans, they did not receive flags on their coffins, and were never officially recognized for their service. That despite playing a vital role during the war.

Boldy asking why she couldn't fly just because she was a girl, Parrish went to training and eventually became a trainer herself.

Now, sixty-plus years later, she and her fellow trainers, the WASP's are getting their due. Last fourth of July weekend, President Obama announced they would receive the Congressional Gold Medal and at 10 o' clock this morning, they will do so at the U.S. Capitol building. Only about 300 of the orginial 1100 are still alive; many of the WASP's family members will receive a posthumus honor for their mother or grandmother. The gregarious Parrish will be among those honored to speak, an honor for a woman who, alongside her daughter Nancy, has fought tirelessly for the story of the WASP's to be told. Says Parrish, it's not the recognition that's most important.

You can find out more about the WASP's online at the Parrish's foundation, wingsacrossamerica.us. For KWBU news, I'm Derek Smith.

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