The 123 rd Fighter Squadron said their final goodbyes to their last remaining founding member, Fred Parish, September 8, 2019, at a memorial service last weekend. Fred Parish of La Grande, Oregon, passed away on July 7, 2019 at the age of 98.
Fred was one of 117 Oregonians that chartered the 123 rd Observation Squadron“Redhawks”, which today has become the 123 rd Fighter Squadron based out of Portland, Ore.
“Fred Parish was a valued founding father of the Redhawks,” said Lt. Col. Nick Rutgers, 123 rd Fighter Squadron Commander. “Fred’s warrior ethos and passion for the organization has helped weave the fabric of success that will undoubtedly continue into the future.”
He was born September 1, 1920 in Portland, Oregon, to Robert A. Parish Sr. and Annie H. Parish and graduated from Franklin High School there.
Tech. Sgt. Fred Parish initially entered military service in the U.S. Army Air Corps in April 1941. He was a medic assigned to the 123rd Observation Squadron, which became the first Oregon Air National Guard unit following WWII.
Brig. Gen. Donna Prigmore, Oregon Air National Guard Commander, remarked on Fred’s impact to the organization. “The Oregon Air National Guard has been an integral part of the nation’s air defense since 1941, and Fred was at the cutting edge of that success. He was a brave and motivated man who helped pave the way for our future,
and for that, we will always be grateful.”
During his time in service, Fred served as a WWII medic in the China Burma India Theater of Operations. His efforts enabled critical photo reconnaissance needed to thwart the Japanese advance through China and over “the Hump” to India and Eastern Europe.
Of note, on one occasion Parish vaccinated over 6,000 newly arriving troops in less than 24 hours. In addition, Tech. Sgt. Parish was recognized for his efforts to rescue a pilot from a burning aircraft at Gray Field, WA.
Fred’s awards include the Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Ribbon, and Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon with 2 Bronze Battle Stars.
He was in the Army’s Officer Training School when WWII came to a sudden end. Fred, along with many other officer
candidates in his class, was returned to his Non-Commissioned Officer rank, where he finished out his service until his discharge in October 1945.
After military service, Fred made significant efforts to locate former members of the 123rd Observation Squadron and involve them in Oregon National Guard Heritage. He was instrumental in the coordination of the first Oregon Air National Guard reunion for the 50th Anniversary, and the subsequent anniversaries leading up to the 75th.
“While Boy Scouting and boating were a huge part of his life, there is no question that his service in the 123 rd (Observation Squadron) and World War II were the dominant events in his life,” said Roger Parish, Fred’s oldest son. “More than anything else combined, he talked about his experience in the Oregon National Guard.”
Fred is survived by his two sons, Roger (& Kathy) Parish and Brian (& Connie) Parish, his grandsons Ted, Chris, and Geoff Parish, and granddaughter Shirley Shold. He has six great grandchildren: Taylor, David, Kira, Conner, Abigail, and Grace.
His wife of 64 years, Loreta, passed away in 2012.