My name is Phillip Jerry Parker.
(Jerry or PJ) to my friends . I was stationed at Chateauroux From Dec.1961
until Dec. 1964.
assigned to Operation "Silk Purse"
and worked on the C-118 "Air Command" planes as a multi engine aircraft
mechanic. We kept a plane in the air 24 hours a day with a ranking officer
flying aboard as the Inflight Commander of the entire European Theater.
This squadron was ordered to be assembled by President John F. Kennedy so
there would be an airborne command aloft in case of nuclear attack on the
ground which thankfully, never happened.
I was off duty and had stopped
at a french service station in Issudun (north of Chateauroux) to get gas and
the french station owner was the person who told me in French, " President
Kennedy is dead. Assassinated. At first I couldn't fully
register in my mind that he was serious and he realized that, so he told me
again. It registered fully that time and my heart sunk. That moment and
the circumstances of that moment will be forever engrained in my memory.
I worked with, Smoot, - Ralph "T
Bird" Tompkins,(Deceased) - Skip Conception, - Billy C "Lil Will" Austin, -
Paz, - S/Sgt, Darrows, - George Nash, - Romereo Riverez, - M/Sgt. Lewis, -
M/Sgt's Shoults, & "Pappy"Colgrove,(Both Deseased), -T/Sgt. Wolf, - T/Sgt.
Wayne Viets, (Deceased), - S/Sgt. Pugliese, - and became forever friends with
coworkers, Douglas Wilard Dean, - Carlton Rufus Thomas lll, - "Fuzz" Smith, -
& Randall Emery "Randy" Shephard.
Fuzz, Randy &
myself all wound up working together, for all these years, (since 1965) at
Lockheed Martin in Marietta Georgia and are now retired from there.
I was a member of, "The
Chateauroux Grape Stompers," (a square dance club), along with Sgt. Viets, his
wife & daughter, Joyce & Yvette, - M/Sgt, Eugene Holt & his wife Teresa, - &
Martha Eugenia "Jeannie" Sullivan. One weekend our club & other square dance
clubs from all around France met in Paris and square danced under the Eifffel
Tower on a Saterday night. We were all having a wonderful time performing for
hundreds of French people, ( they called it American Folk Dancing), who had
gathered to watch & listen to music that wasn't like music that they had heard
under the Eiffel Tower before, - until the gendarmes came - and
threatened to throw us all into the bastille for organizing a public gathering
without a permit to do so. That was another one of my experiences that I'LL
never forget. We can say that we did something that only a few people on earth
have ever done. "Square danced under the Eiffel Tower." I also taught square
dancing to young French people at the American Red Cross Center in down
town Chateauroux every Friday night and after dancing we would almost always
spend the rest of the night there playing Rook or Pinochle Til daylight.
I was a very young man
at the time, 20 to 23 years old, had never before, nor since,
experienced such wonders of learning and living in such a strange, (to me), &
different world as what I experienced there.