- Birth Date: October 23, 1917
- Place of Birth: Des Moines, Iowa
- State of Residence: Arizona
- Years of Service: 20
- Branch of Military: U. S. Army
- Rank: Lt Colonel
- Wars Involved In: WWII, Korea, The Cold War
- Theater(s) of Operation: United States, Germany, Korea, Japan
Mr. Parks was born In Des Moines but grew up in Afton, Iowa. He was drafted in 1941. He had two other brothers. One who enlisted in the navy and was killed aboard the USS Pensacola near the Solomon Islands and the other who died at age 76. Mr. Parks, like all draftees, was supposed to only have served for one year, but when the war broke out, he was made to stay in the service longer. He went through the enlisted ranks and then decided to go to officers’ school. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. During WWII he was assigned to administrative and manpower control jobs. This involved on site analysis of logistical civilian support. He was sent to two specialty schools to learn how to do his job. During the war he was primarily an administrative officer who went on administrative assignments. His specific job was to go up and screen the different areas and make sure that they had just the right amount of civilian support. He was sent to California to go the Pacific, but the army instead sent him to Europe. By this time, the war was almost over. He was now a Captain, so he decided to remain in the army. After the war he was sent to Germany. He learned from his experience that most German people were ok, but that Hitler was bad and that is what caused their destruction. He said in Germany, after the war, there was a lot of poverty. He said that he would see children pick up cigarette butts and take them home to their fathers who took them to the grocery store to trade for food. The butts were worth more than money.
After the war he was assigned to the war crimes commission in Dachau. This, he says, was not the main one in Nuremburg. The war crimes commission at Dachau tried all of the minor cases. Typical cases would be ones such as a farmer whose barn was accidentally bombed and his cow was killed. When the aviator came down, the farmer would go and attack the aviator. They would arrest and prosecute the farmer. There had almost 15,000 people that they had to screen for trial. They did not get all of them done. His job was to find and bring in the witnesses. The attorneys would pick the witnesses that they needed for the trial and then Mr. Parks had teams that he would send out to get them. Sometimes it was as easy as calling the Bürgermeister or the Chief of Police of the town where the witness was located. Other times, because the Russian liaison officer was not cooperative, he had to sneak witnesses over from the Russian occupied zone. One of the more famous cases that the war crimes commission in Dachau was involved in was the one involving Elsa Koch. She was living with the Commandant. It was alleged that during this time she would ride around and pick out people with interesting tattoos, have them killed, and have their skin made into lamp shades.
Mr. Parks earned a bronze star for carrying out his duties in a combat zone.
In Korea he was for working for the G1 department of the 8th Army, which involved manpower control. He was sent to Japan, but then was reassigned to Sasebo, Japan instead of being sent to Korea. There he was in charge of processing soldiers going to and coming from Korea. After this he was assigned to Ft. Knox, Kentucky. He stayed there for two years until he was assigned to Korea.
He said that he learned through his experience that, “War is hell and when you see the destruction of it; you try to figure out what’s the justification of it. It is hard to understand.”
He also said, “I wouldn’t give a million dollars for my experiences, but there isn’t enough money in the world that would ever convince me to do that again.” He said that it was especially tough on his family because of constant moving and separation.
He and his two brothers have their names on the WWII memorial in Washington DC, which is available to all WWII veterans at their request.