WUFT News

North Central Florida Veterans Recount October Trip To WWII Memorial

By on November 12th, 2013

A crowd of hundreds of people anxiously waited for the homecoming of 25 North Central Florida veterans, who were returning from an Oct. 5 visit to the World War II Memorial in D.C.

Tom Parks knew he would remember the memorial visit for the rest of his life.

“It’s overwhelming is all I can say – you just don’t realize it because you’ve been around for all these years,” Parks said. “World War II was a few years ago, and all of a sudden these people are thanking you for what you did.”

Among the crowd was veteran Tom Parks’ wife, Jean, and she could not wait to see him.

“As the motorcycles got closer, I kept getting more excited because I knew Tom was going to come off that bus any minute,” she said.

Parks said he’s especially thankful for every opportunity in his life, including this one, because he is very lucky to be alive.

A little more than a year after Parks’ birth, he developed double bronchitis pneumonia. After a painful healing process, he got through it.

“I don’t care what it is, my life has been a hellacious adventure,” he said.

In April 1945, Tom decided to join the navy with a group of his friends from high school.

He told his family, “‘Hey, I joined the Navy to see the world.’ Okay, so next thing I know, I’m in Shanghai.”

And though he only served about a year, he collected quite a few artifacts. Still, he wasn’t the only vet in his group to take something home.

Jim Davis, who also fought in World War II as a soldier in the army, walked away with a German bullet and a purple heart.

“Well, I picked that up in North Florence, Italy the 15th of September 1944,” Davis said. He was shot through the hips and was never able to return to his infantry.

For Davis, this D.C. trip came 72 years after he joined the army. “I went in October 1941″, Jim said.

The day of the trip, the government was shut down and all national parks were closed. However, that didn’t stop the veterans and their guardians from seeing their memorial. The relationship between a vet and his or her guardian is something special.

Tom Parks’ guardian, Dave Miller, said, “It’s a person I never met before that’s going to be a friend for the rest of our lives.”

Jean Parks couldn’t be happier her husband decided to go to the memorial when he did, she said.

“This has affected him, and I think it will affect him for the rest of his life,” Jean Parks said. “He’s just a different person.”


This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Local

Gainesville's Labor Daze Fest attracted attendees for music and political conversation. Jon Uman, candidate for State House 21, was also in attendance.

Labor Daze Fest Provides Venue for Music and Politics

Gainesville’s annual Labor Day event, Labor Daze Fest, attracted visitors for fun as well as for political conversation. Minimum wage and labor unions were among the topics some attendees hoped to hear more about.


Alachua County Sheriff’s Office To Supervise Waldo After Ticketing Charges

A plan, under development, would allow the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office to supervise Waldo police operations after allegations that the former chief and interim chief established illegal ticketing quotas.


University of Florida President Bernie Machen is doused with ice water for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Machen was nominated to participate in the nationwide campaign by Kéran Billaud, a Ph.D. student at UF.

UF President Participates in ALS ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’

University of Florida President Bernie Machen participated in the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” on Monday. Machen nominated all YouTube viewers as well as the president of UF Student Government and the vice president of the UF Division of Student Affairs.


State Buys Land For Florida Greenway

State park managers have said they will be buying or trading land in Marion, Palm Beach, and Jackson counties. This is to fill the gaps of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, a recreational outdoor area that spans 110 [...]


The charred remains of a Levy County home are all that remain following a fire that killed two people early Wednesday morning, August 20, 2014. (Virginia Hamrick/WUFT News)

Two People Die in Levy County Home Fire

Local law enforcement and the State Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating a mobile home fire that occurred in Levy County early Wednesday morning.  Lt. Scott Tummond of Levy County Sheriff’s Office said the Bronson Fire Department responded to calls at [...]


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments