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

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 [...]


George Young, former owner of Mom's Kitchen, a local soul-food restaurant and gathering place, talks about the memories of the cultural landmark following its demolition.

Residents Collect Memories of Mom’s Kitchen

  Gainesville is saying goodbye to a neighborhood treasure following the demolition of the historic restaurant that served as a soul food and entertainment center for decades. Mom’s Kitchen, which was owned and operated by George Young and his family [...]


Claudia Aguilar, the mother of slain University of Florida student Christian Aguilar, cries with family in the family's private room at the Alachua County Criminal Justice Center following the guilty verdict of Pedro Bravo Friday, August 15, 2014.  Bravo was found guilty of first degree murder. (Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun/Pool)

Pictures: Pedro Bravo Guilty Verdict


Pedro Bravo stands while the jury exits the courtroom  during a break from closing statements by Assistant State Attorney Bill Ezzell during Bravo's murder trial at the Alachua County Criminal Justice Center Friday, August 15, 2014.  Bravo is accused of killing University of Florida student Christian Aguilar.  (Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun/Pool)

Pedro Bravo Found Guilty On All Seven Charges

After several hours of deliberation following a two-week trial, the jury has found Pedro Bravo guilty in the first-degree murder of his former high school friend and University of Florida student Christian Aguilar. Bravo, 20, was found guilty of first degree murder, [...]


Pedro Bravo is fingerprinted after being sentence to life in prison for the murder of Christian Aguilar in courtroom 1B of the Alachua County Criminal Justice Center Friday, August 15, 2014.   (Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun/Pool)

Pictures: Day Ten Of Pedro Bravo Trial


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