Friday, June 29, 2007

Larry Parks laid to rest

Pfc. Larry Parks Jr. decided to join the military for the same reason he was a firefighter.

“Larry Parks believed the choice that he made might make a difference,” the Rev. Clarence Brown told those who packed an overflowing Good Funeral Home Thursday morning to say goodbye to the 24-year-old Altoona serviceman killed last week in Iraq. To his family, friends, fellow firefighters and his community, there was little doubt.

“He did make a difference,” Brown said. Parks was described as a man “who got things done,” whether that be manning a hose as a volunteer fireman, helping a stranger who had run out of gas or joining the Army

to be a peacemaker overseas.

Bob Dennis, president of the Newburg Volunteer Fire Department, relayed how when the fireman gathered at the station on the news of Parks death, talk turned to how the young firefighter had a knack for lifting the spirits of those around him.

“Larry said or did something to get our hopes back up,” Dennis said.

He also was a good mechanic who was known not only for his tuneup skills, Dennis said. His well-known test drives around the neighborhood following such tuneups brought some laughter to the funeral home.

“Every time you see a cloud in the sky, that’s smoke coming off his tires,” he said, also likening the thunder to the roar of his tailpipe. The rain is Parks “doing what he did best,” working the hose of a fire truck, Dennis said.

Parks became a firefighter at 16, and would have been a captain with the Newburg Fire Department had he not joined the Army in January 2006. Parks was in Iraq only 38 days when his tank was struck June 18 by an improvised bomb, killing him.

For his service, Parks received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Army Good Conduct Medal.

Army Brigadier General Jesse Cross presented the medals to Parks parents, Larry Sr. and Cheryl, during Thursday’s service.

“You have shared with the entire nation a precious gift,” Cross told the Parks family, that includes two sisters and a brother. “We can never repay that debt.”

Parks was laid to rest with full military honors at Alto Reste Park, where the Patriot Guard Riders led the funeral procession through an arch of outstretched fire truck ladders. As the military honor guard finished by Parks’ family with the American Flag that draped his casket and marched away, bagpipe music gave way to bursts of white noise from firefighters’ radios and Pfc. Larry Parks’ last call.

“Larry will be sadly missed but never forgotten,” came the words over the county’s emergency frequencies at 12:22 p.m. “May his soul rest in peace and look over us as we carry on his legacy.”

From the Altoona Mirror

Related Link:
Larry Parks remembered

Related Link:
Larry Parks Jr. dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'