Saturday, October 2, 2010

2010 WASP Exhibit Featuring Memorabilia From Gail Sigford Family Archives: Panorama of Case 1 and Peggie Parker Eccles

(Photo by courtesy of  Diane Johnston)

The panorama of Case 1 shows that the focus of the exhibit was on the five WASP that were associated with Klamath County, Oregon; left to right,  Blanche Osborn Bross, Margaret DeBolt Christian, Peggie Parker Eccles, Margarete McGrath Armstrong, and Gail G. Sigford.

WASP Peggie Parker Eccles, 44-W-4
Feb. 16, 1928 – May 9, 2009

Peggie Parker Eccles
Courtesy of Texas Woman's University

An Oregon girl by birth, at the age of 16, Peggie Parker entered Mills College in the San Francisco Bay area, with the intent of going to medical school. However, Mills College offered a Civil Air Patrol training program and aviation was a passion for her and her father.  During the early days of WWII flying along the coast was not allowed, so to complete their CAP hours, she and her father drove  to an airport that was an hour inland from the coast . Parker obtained her pilot's license in 1941 and was interviewed and asked to join the WASP in the spring of 1942. She opted to finish her college degree before joining the WASP.

By June of 1942, Parker had taken and passed the required physical and completed the required paper work, however the paperwork was lost somewhere at Randolph Field, TX. After several months delay, she joined WASP class 44-W-4 at Avenger Field, Sweetwater, Texas.

Upon graduation she was assigned to the Air Transport Command where she ferried B-24s and B-17s to point of embarkations, which included Great Falls, Montana, the San Francisco Bay and Newark, New Jersey. She also flew several Norsemen to Montreal, Canada, which were crated and sent to England. Later, she was sent to a B-29 base near Alamogordo NM, where she was the “taxi service,” for four physicists who were working on the top secret atom bomb project. She would fly the scientist from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque to Edwards AF Base in CA, and then on to Washington D.C. According to Eccles, “The project was very hush-hush! I even had to carry a gun while I transported those men.”

After deactivation of the WASP, Parker, along with some other WASP, continued in her activities in aviation for another at the Palm Springs Airport in California. She taught flying and continued to ferry planes.

Later she married Julian Eccles.They  lived and raised their  family in Klamath Falls, Oregon for many years. Peggie Parker Eccles continued to fly whenever she got the opportunity.