Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Larry Parks remembered

Pfc. Larry Parks Jr. was only in Iraq for 38 days.

"He was raised rough and tough," said his father, Larry Parks Sr. "We thought he'd be invincible -- we thought he'd go over there and help out, and then come back and be fine."

Pfc. Parks had been a member of the Newburg Volunteer Fire Department in Blair County for eight years when he shipped out for Army basic training in January 2006.

He was trained as a tank gunner and this May was deployed to Iraq, where he died Monday when his tank hit a roadside bomb south of Baghdad, according to his family. Pfc. Parks, 24, lived in Altoona.

When Pfc. Parks joined the Army, "he was excited," said Nikki Nagle, a friend since childhood. "He always wanted to do it. When he first had his physical, he had a hard time getting in, because he had a hernia." After several tries, Ms. Nagle said, he was accepted.

"He wanted to make his family proud of him, and he did," she said.

"We weren't happy or excited about it" when he joined the Army, said his mother, Cheryl Parks, "but he wanted to help."

Pfc. Parks was one of 8,143 military personnel from Pennsylvania deployed worldwide as of the end of April, according to the most recent figures available from the Defense Department.

Pfc. Parks was interested in serving others from a young age. He grew up by a fire station. "He used to hang around down there and watch the guys practice," said Bob Dennis, president of the Newburg Fire Association.

He was fascinated by the firefighters' routines and joined the Newburg department when he turned 16, and still a student at Altoona Area High School.

"He wasn't afraid to gear up and go into a burning building," said Mr. Dennis.

In addition to his mother and father, Pfc. Parks is survived by two sisters, Amanda Parks and Hannah Parks of Altoona; a brother, Adam Parks, of Altoona; and a half-sister, Michelle Clark, of Lawrenceburg, Tenn.

From the Post Gazette

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