Text Box: Her footsteps echoing on the polished hardwood floors of the small South Waco bungalow that serves as the Wings Across America project’s office, Deanie Bishop Parrish points to wall art quoting General Hap Arnold, chief of the Army Air Forces in World War II
	On December 7, 1944, the general told a group of patriotic young ladies who were the last graduating class of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP): “You and more than 900 of your sisters have shown you can fly wingtip to wingtip with your brothers…We of the Army Air Force are proud of you. We will never forget our debt to you.”
	Parrish taps her knuckles on the written words and frowns. 	“Thirteen days later they sent us all home and promptly forgot about us,” the former WASP flyer said with a tinge of sadness in her  voice. “They forgot about us.”
	But no more.
	Thanks to support from Baylor University, Deanie and her daughter Nancy Parrish have formed Wings Across America, an all-volunteer, nonprofit project devoted to resurrecting the history of the Women Airforce Service Pilots. They are determined to tell the story, so that the contribution of these brave patriots will get the honor and respect the women long ago earned.
	Wings Across America most recently has opened a museum exhibition, “FLY GIRLS of World War II,” now on display at Baylor’s Sue and Frank Mayborn Museum.  “Fly Girls” has proven to be so popular, the exhibit has been extended past its original closing date of November 28, according to Mayborn Marketing Director Sarah Levine.
	Although few American’s realize it, WASP were stationed at 120 Army Air Force bases all over the United States during World War II.  The group was started in response to a severe shortage of male combat pilots.
	The women officially relieved some stateside male pilots, who were then sent overseas for combat duty. The women were able to assume the pilots’ non-combat flying duties because they were given the same flight training as the men.  Their duties included flying planes deemed too dangerous to fly by male pilots – in order to prove to the men the planes were safe enough.  WASP also test-flew aircraft and flew targets for trainees to shoot at – risky business, indeed.
	Collectively, the WASP flew more than 60 million miles in every type aircraft and on every type assignment – except actual combat – as the Army Air Force’s male pilots. Arnold’s request to militarize the women pilots was defeated in Congress, and the WASP were not given veteran status until 1977.
	The Parrishes say it is only fitting that the WASP story be told from Texas.
	“Every WASP, every one of them, earned her wings in Texas,” Deanie said. The first group graduated in Houston; three months later, the training was moved to Avenger Field in Sweetwater. A total of 1,074 women completed a seven-

On a Wing and a Prayer  by Lynn Bulmahn


Reprinted from the original

November 2007 edition

WACO ARMY AIR FIELD, 1944  (L TO R) Kay Elliot (Thompson), Mary Regalbuto (Jones), Lorraine Zilner (Rodgers), Anne Noggle, Clarice Siddal (Bergemann), Mary Jane Isham (Ehrman), Evelyn Taylor (Wahberg), Doris Boothe (Wanty)