Commander of Tuskegee Army Airfield
Noel F. Parrish graduated from Rice Institute (today Rice University) in 1928 and enlisted in the United States Army in 1930. His service took him all around the country including Fort Crockett, near Galveston, with the 13th Attack Squadron, and to Randolph Field as a flying instructor. In 1941, Parrish was assigned the role of Assistant Director of Training of the Eastern Flying Training Command at Maxwell Field, Alabama, where he oversaw the “Tuskegee Experiment.” Choosing to forego combat duty, Parrish took command of the Tuskegee Army Airfield in December of 1942. The field was the home base for training of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American aviators in the U.S. Armed Forces. Parrish is remembered for his willingness to call out blatant racism against black aviators and the steps he took to desegregate the airfield. After his military retirement in 1964, Parrish returned to Houston and obtained master’s and doctorate degrees in history from Rice.