Meet the candidate: Tally Casey (D) for South Carolina Lt.Gov.
Greenville native Lt. Col. Tally Parham Casey is the first female fighter pilot in South Carolina. In operations supporting the first Persian Gulf War, her job was to allow herself to be targeted by anti-aircraft installations. Once her plane was detected, she then tried to destroy the radars before taking evasive action to avoid incoming anti-aircraft fire, clearing the path for the bombers that would follow.
Now, she’s moving on to a softer focus in the political arena. As a running mate, Casey is supporting Joe Cunningham, the Democratic candidate for governor, as he tries to make headway before the general election on Nov. 8 in a largely Republican state.
The following interview has been edited for brevity.
Can you tell us about your background?
I grew up in the Upstate. I was born and raised in Greenville. Went to high school there. When I was a teenager, I really wanted to fly airplanes so I applied to Air Force Academy and learn kind of the hard way in 1987 that women were not allowed to fly fighters and I wanted to fly F-16s.
So I went to my plan B. I went to college at Princeton, University of Virginia Law School. And then when the Combat Exclusion Policy was repealed in 1993, I turned my eyes again towards flying and I interviewed at our South Carolina National Guard unit at McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover, South Carolina.
I got a pilot slot. So I started training there. I enlisted there in 1996 and flew F-16s until 2012. I am a lawyer in Columbia now I have my firm Wyche. It’s a statewide firm. We have our biggest office here in the Upstate. We’ve got a Spartanburg office, as well. I’ve got three children ages 13, 14 and 21.
My first job out of college was at a wonderful place called the Legal Action Center for the Homeless.I was working in New York City. I went to college in New Jersey and there I was able to represent homeless and indigent people who needed assistance with all sorts of problems. And we were able as non-lawyers to actually represent them in administrative courts in New York. And so I learned in a wonderful way the power of, um, giving aid to someone who doesn’t have a voice and helping someone who can’t help themselves.