This is Richard “Doc” Parker. He was a combat medic with 4/12 Cav in Vietnam 1969-70. He received a Bronze Star for his gallant actions, but few know his courageous story and no one will ever hear these accounts uttered from his own lips. Being a combat medic alone should speak volumes about the caliber of man Richard is. He is a man who would sprint through a hail of bullets to save a life while chaos erupted around him. He would leap from the sanctuary of his tank and hurtle through a mine field to help his friends. These aren’t mere analogies. He did that. He damned the devil and stole from death. Yet he was willing to trade his own soul for the single life of one of his men. Despite how much he gave of himself, for Richard, it was never good enough. Men died. He felt as though he had failed his friends. Returning home people spat on him, made any number of derogatory remarks, and ostracized him for going to war. He believed he had failed his country. Over the years, Richard made many attempts to visit his friends from Vietnam and 4/12 Cav, but was so ashamed he couldn’t bring himself to meet them face to face. Richard was often the last person someone saw in life. Men dreaded a day they might see Richard staring down on them, but he was the one person everyone wanted walking by their side through hell. Having spent time in the U.S. Marines, I know the significance of people like Richard and what they represent to their men. My Corpsmen and I are still good friends to this day. I can’t possibly begin to describe the epitome they embody, or the love that we have for them. Medics mean the world to us. It goes beyond a brotherhood. I know the same applies to Richard and the love and respect his men have for him. “Doc” was the one responsible for delivering them home to their families. But he gave up so much. His PTSD has left him crippled because of his experience. He doesn’t believe he deserves respect for what he did because he never saw it coming back. It didn’t matter how many lives he saved, he only counted the ones he couldn’t. Those are the lives he remembers. Those are the lives that haunt him. Memorial Day is a time to honor those who lost their lives, but we should also revere those who gave everything they could so that men and women didn’t die on the battle field. We should honor men and women like Richard who did everything in their power so that we wouldn’t have to venerate a day like Memorial Day.
Submitted by Thomas R. Bloom