My father, John Middleton Parker, Jr. entered the U.S. Army on December 20, 1940 as a 2nd Lieutenant in the twelfth infantry regiment. He’d previously been part of the Reserve Army Training Corps (ROTC) at the University of Pennsylvania.
Like most of his peers from WWII, my father didn’t talk much about his service. However, he saved every single piece of paper that he was issued by the Army, carefully stored in folders and three-ring binders. And my son interviewed my dad about his service, so between the paperwork and the interview, I have a fairly good record of his service.
My dad’s first assignment was at Fort Hood, Virginia, where he was in charge of military burials. He attended 500 funerals during his brief time there. Before that, he’d only been on one funeral in his life. He begged for a transfer after the first day (14 funerals), but his Commanding Officer told him it was stay or get court marital.
The photo is of my father and mother on their wedding day, June 6, 1942: Captain John Middleton Parker Jr., 12th infantry, U.S. Army, and Roberta Mather Parker. (He was promoted to Captain after having wedding invitations printed while he was a lieutenant. He and my future mother had to get all new invites.)
Jack, as he preferred to be called, went on to serve as Commander of the Military Police Detachment at Camp Hood, Texas (now Fort Hood), where he stayed for several years. He was then sent to Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he studied logistics. After graduating with honors, he was sent to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, briefly and then to the Pentagon. He was assigned to the China, Burma, and India Theater of Operations and helped ascertain what was needed in those areas logistically.
My father’s regiment was split in half during the war. Half stayed stateside; half went overseas. The overseas half was involved in the Battle of the Bulge, where many, many were killed.
His finally deployment was to Japan and the Philippines, where he was with a group that was to attack Japan from the south. As it turned out, the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan surrendered. So, no attacking occurred. My father stayed in Japan for several months. I have some great souvenirs! He left the Army on September 6, 1946, after serving in the reserves after the war.
Jack always considered himself very lucky to have avoided seeing action. He was a gentle man and very funny. I’m proud to have had such a patriotic father, but I’m also glad that, not having seen action, he was not as haunted as so many veterans are by the horrors of war.