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Teague plays Taps at 07 Veterans Day event

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Pfc. Carwin Oakley Parker, United States Marine Corps, at age 17.


Parker Thomas Teague is a 2008 graduate of Watertown High School where he was a member of the band. Now attending the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Parker is a member of the Pride of Southland Marching Band. He plays the trumpet. Parker is also the nephew of the late Pfc. Carwin Oakley Parker who was killed in action in World War II.


His uncle was killed in World War II

By LINDA BETH EVINSSpecial to The Wilson Post

The anticipation of Veterans Day, for those who served our great nation, is getting closer.  Our veterans have accomplished much, while many of us feel we haven’t done enough, that we can’t compare with men and women who enlisted and fought for freedom.

However, we do have the opportunity to honor and support our veterans. Each year Wilson County crowds grow larger as we stand among the mass of uniformed men and women.  In 2007, a young man from Watertown, stepped forward to conclude the Veterans Day ceremony by playing “Taps.”     

Parker Thomas Teague, a Watertown High School senior, class Salutatorian of 2008 and trumpeter, stepped forward to honor our soldiers and his fallen hero, Pfc. Carwin Oakley Parker, United States Marine Corps, World War II. 

Parker’s day began early the morning of Nov. 11, 2007, as he made his way to Watertown High School and boarded a bus for the parade.  The band was smartly dressed in Watertown colors of purple and white; uniforms pressed, shoes shined, instruments perfectly tuned, and everyone was ready to march.

About the same time, business man and Korean War Veteran, Jack Cato, arrived at the Wilson County Courthouse to set up the sound system, check equipment and select the Service Medley to be played that day. Bands from across the county marched in perfect time; veterans walked the parade route while others rode in specially provided transportation. All arrived at the Wilson County Courthouse at 11 a.m. The WHS band stood at attention behind the podium. 

On that crisp November day, J.W. McGuire thanked God for His rich blessings and we witnessed an impressive “fly-over” with the missing man formation. Gold Star Mothers sat proudly during the speeches, remembering their sons who paid the ultimate price, and a wreath was laid in tribute.

Parker was standing nearby as Jack tried to locate “Taps” in his stack of CD’s.  Jack turned to the young man from Watertown, and Parker volunteered on the spot. 

Parker was familiar with Wilson County’s granite monument. Pfc. Carwin Parker, USMC, had been engraved years ago. Parker’s grandmother, Myra Parker Malone, had told him that her brother, Carwin, was 17 years old when he begged his parents for their signatures allowing him to join the Marine Corps. Unable to discourage their youngest son, they gave in.

On May 8, 1944, Carwin Parker, 19, boarded the APA U.S.S. Calloway, headed for combat in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Aboard ship the men attended lectures and studied the history, weather, economy, health, and languages as well as the people and other things to be faced in the operation.

Pfc. Parker, born April 6, 1925, member of the 23rd Marines, 4th Marine Division, had attacked two islands before the D-Day landing on Saipan, June 15, 1944. Saipan is 15 miles long and less than 5 miles wide. It may have looked unimpressive, just a little piece of land sticking up in the middle of the Pacific Ocean; however, to the Japanese it was a treasure. The Aslito airfield was our objective, allowing us to land and refuel B-29’s in our effort to defeat the Japanese and end the war.

The date of June 15, 1944, was D-Day on Saipan. Although our Navy ships and planes had bombarded the island, the enemy would not give up without a fight. Our mighty ships unloaded men, weapons, ammunition, canteens and packs. There were battle ships, cruisers and destroyers, all doing their part, to get the men ashore. Saipan was to be taken in five to 10 days; however, it took much longer (25 days) and the cost was great.

After the island was finally secured, Commanding Major General H. Schmidt, 4th Marine Division, said to his officers and men, “You have covered yourselves with glory, I am very proud of you. May God be with you in the coming days.”

It wasn’t long before Inez and Arch Parker received a telegram, “WE REGRET TO INFORM YOU…” Pfc. Carwin Oakley Parker was killed in action on June 15, 1944, D-Day on Saipan. Myra told me that her brother’s body arrived home by train, and the flag-draped casket, accompanied by fellow Marines, was taken to Brush Creek for burial. Myra said she treasures the picture of her brother, Carwin, in his dress-blues, enshrined along with his medals, including the Purple Heart. She passed on this history to her children and grandchildren, and perhaps that’s why it is fitting that her grandson, Parker Teague, played “Taps,” 24 melodious notes that always stirs emotions, on Veterans Day, November 2007.

It is a wonderful privilege to honor our veterans. Please say a special “thank you” to them on Veterans Day, 2009.

Editor’s Note: Linda Beth Evins writes about veterans of Wilson County for The Wilson Post.

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