WILLIAM “BILL” PARKER – US Army Staff Sargent, 29th Infantry Division, 116th Infantry’s 2nd Battalion Company E third platoon, D-day veteran Omaha Beach
“War is Hell” those 3 words have been used by many veterans along this journey. A tiny phrase, light years away from our world of convenience and comfort.
Mr. William “Bill” Parker 29th Infantry Division, 116th Infantry’s 2nd Battalion Company E third platoon, stepped off a landing craft onto Omaha Beach before 7:00 a.m. on D-Day….hell.
The following is from an article by Tim Stanley – Tulsa World who kindly facilitated my contact with Mr. Parker.
“Part of the first assault wave at 6:30 a.m., Parker no more than stepped off his landing craft when it was sunk, apparently hit by a shell.Excerpt from Tim Stanley’s article in Tulsa World
From there, with the “sand kicking up about three feet in front of me” from machine gun fire, he eventually was able to work his way across the beach.
Parker regrouped with fellow survivors. He made it through the day. It wasn’t until the next morning — when he went back to the beach to look for ammunition — that Parker could truly appreciate what he had survived”.
“You can’t imagine what that was like,” Parker said. “Dead people everywhere. In the water. Washed up on the sand. The water was plumb bloody.”
A constant reminder that I started this project too late, the Log Book arrived the day after the funeral of his wife Colleen of 76 years.
Despite his profound loss, he was able to peruse the book and read Ms. Hilde Joseph’s ordeal of surviving “Operation Gomorrah” – the firebombing of Hamburg in July 1943. Mr. Parker graciously noted that he “for the first time, felt sorry for the German people”. A beautiful moment of reflection and reconciliation from a man with such a staggering service legacy.