Woodbury County

Emil Vincent "Vince" Parker






Vince Parker was born 10 January 1919, in Anthon, Iowa, to Murrie Lewis and Luella (Pilkington) Paker. Siblings are Darrel Ray, Verlin Emery, and Helen Elaine Redmond. Vince attended school in Anthon and Climbing Hill.

Prior to joining the service, Vince served in the CCC camp at Whiting in 1938.

His daughter, Pam, wrote the following in 1982 for a school report. “My father was in World War II. He was stationed in various places such as Brownsville, Texas, Hawaii, Okinawa, and the islands of Si Pan and Tinie ann, and Guam.

“He instructed the tank drivers where to go both on land and sea. They drove the tanks in a V-shaped pattern, much like geese do. One day while they were out, one of the funny boys among them recognized my father’s tank number. He decided to open the hatch of his own tank and
waved at my dad. He really made a scene and could have had his head blown off!

“For recreation, my dad played on a volleyball team. He said it was played much different than our girls’ team played this year. There were also baseball teams, USO’s are places to go for fun much like a pinball arcade would be today. Also while he was in Brownsville, they got to see Joe Lewis sparring with one of his training personnel. That was about all of the recreation, except for the fact that they got passes to leave camp and go into town or wherever for a few hours, or a few days. But only so many days were allowed per person, per year.

“When they were first sent over, each man was assigned a specific job. There was one man who wasn’t all that bright, came running around yelling, “I’m an MP, I’m an MP!” Of course, no one could figure how he could be a military policeman for which MP stands for. A few days later, while the men were marching, they saw a pack of burro going down on the other side of the road. Among them was this same man. His MP had meant Mule Pack instead of Military Police”.

“Before being excepted into the army, men had to go through many tests. They received many shots to give them immunity from over seas sickness. Some men tried to get away or sneak off from the doctors so they wouldn’t have to have all the shots. But my dad never tried to get away and he received all his shots. Just as soon as they’d have one needle out of one arm, another would be in the other. They also ran drills like on Private Benjamin or on other war movies. One such drill was continually crawling through a long role of wire while tracer bullets, which are actually real bullets that could kill you, flew over the top of them. Tracer bullets leave a streak of fire to let you see where they had traveled. Another task they had to carry out was to swim seventy-five yards with a full seventy-five pound pack on their backs, before going over seas.

In the army, my father said he made many friends, including three small boys. They came and lived with the company for one year. The men fed and took care of them just like they were their own. The boys even earned a few Americans’ word but it wouldn’t be too good an idea to put hose kind in a paper. One day, they had to send the boys back to their camps. The men found it extremely hard to let them go. This was in Okinawa.

“They also captured a Japanese woman and her child. She said her husband was going to swim over to see them. So the men left and the child stay wait until her husband came. When the man did come, they didn’t do anything to him either. They probably figured that if he wanted to see his family that desperately, the most they could, would be, to let them be happy.

My dad didn’t want to say too much about the fighting, but he did tell me about war life.

At one time his company was stranded by a typhoon for fourteen days. They had no food but plenty of water, because at that time they had been guarding a water point. They had been saving raisins for “raisin jack”, instead they had to eat them. A plane did come and dropped food but on its flight back, it crashed into several high poles and fell to the ground. Unfortunately, the plane was also carrying explosives so when it landed everything inside started blowing. Lucky for the pilot, the company got to him and dragged him out of the cockpit to safety.

“My dad was over seas for two years but in the war four years altogether. He still remembers his draft numbers, too. They were 116 and 161, so he was close to the first one in. They made eleven dollars every month for the first three months and then twenty-two for the rest. The cost for them was taken out of each month’s pay and this is the amount of money left. One problem that occurred during pay time was something called ‘red lined’. Then the men got no pay for that month for some reason, this happened to my dad.
“My dad was in the same position in his platoon for three years. He was in the third platoon, first man in the fourth row. Everyday at roll call my dad would tell the staff sergeant, “All men are accounted for, sir!”

“Everytime you went into a major battle, you received a battle star and my dad has three. He also was released with an honorable discharge. This means that he was released without any bad marks on his army record. There are two other kinds of discharge. One is a dishonorable. Here the person does have bad marks on his record. Another is the medical, which means the person was injured or sick. My uncle was one of these persons. If you were in for three years, you got a hatchmark, this is a yellow stripe. My father got one of these.

“When the Japanese died their family dug a hole big enough for a person to lie on his side. Then they would push a boulder they had carved just big enough for the cover of the hole. The bodies were just laid in there, nothing over them. During the bombing, some of the stones would fall over and the bodies would come out. So another one of my dad’s job was to crawl back into the cave and push the stones back up. He said it really ranked in there and made him sick to do it, but he had to.

“My dad was released on January 20, 1946. Luckily, he was not injured, but we know some people who were. I’m just happy he wasn’t one of them.” He did come home with malaria.

Vince told a granddaughter the following, “Soldiers were required to provide several items to be taken to the induction station. These included: 6 handkerchiefs, 1 toothbrush, with paste or powder, 1 shaving kit, 1 bar of soap, 3 bath towels, 2 underwear suits, 3 pairs of socks, 1 extra shirt. They also were expected to have a small sack to carry these things in, as a suitcase or trunk was not allowed.”

Vince married Vernette Rose Gesaman, 28 November 1943, in the Climbing Hill area. Children born to this union were: Danny Dean, Carolyn Kay Jacobsen, Kristy Lee Hayes, and Pamela Rae Oliver. They have 12 grandchildren.

Vince died in a tractor accident 31 July 1990 in the Climbing Hill area. He was buried at Climbing Hill with military graveside rites by the Wink-Sparks American Legion Post 303 of Moville.

Submitted by Vernette Parker, his wife.

Editor’s note: Like so many men who came home, Vince didn’t talk a whole lot, he tried to keep it light. We used the stories he told his daughter and grandchild to tell about his service.