Born and raised in Florida, Marie Deanie Bishop grew up with a determination to prove herself. On her twenty-first birthday Deanie, who had learned to fly, reached the age requirement for admission to the WASP program and applied that day.
After acceptance, Deanie reported to Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, on November 1,1943, where she began training. As a member of class 44-w-4, she was one of the first women pilots to go from primary training directly to advanced training, bypassing the basic training level. After the women successfully made that training change, skipping the intermediate “basic” level, all pilot training in the Army Air-force implemented this system.
Following graduation from flight school, Deanie was sent to Greenville Army Air Base in Greenville, Mississippi, where she was one of three WASPs on base. As an engineering test pilot, she tested and repaired new aircraft to be re-released for instructors and cadets in training. At Greenville she test-flew a twin-engine aircraft for the first time.
Because of her success in flying twin-engine aircraft, Deanie was soon selected for the B-26 Flexible Gunnery School at Tyndall Army Air-force Base in Florida. She was one of eight women pilots to pass all training tests flying the difficult B-26 Martin Marauder. One of her duties was to hold the B-26 in a flight pattern while B-24s would fly by with gunners shooting live ammunition at the sleeve target towed by the B-26. The training was crucial to prepare gunners for combat. Deanie was stationed at Tyndall for the remainder of her time as a WASP.
After the WASP disbanded on December 20,1944, Deanie continued to work in base operations as an aircraft dispatcher. She later went to Langley Air Force Base where a civil service position as chief aircraft dispatcher in base operations was created for her. In 1946 Deanie married Bill Parrish, a B-24 pilot from Tyndall Air Force Base, and she accompanied him when his orders sent him to Panama. There she became private secretary for the director of operations for the 6th Air Force.
After the war, she returned to school and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of science degree from the University of Houston. She served as national secretary of the National WASP Organization and chair of the WASP Steering Committee for the National WASP World War II Museum. As associate director and primary interviewer for Wings Across America, a project to document and educate others on the history of the WASP, she recorded over 103 interviews with WASPs, preserving the history of the first American women to fly military aircraft.
We honor you, Deanie Parrish.