A Wichita Falls World War II veteran and his son are headed to France. While there, they will visit the beaches of Normandy, where the Texoma hero once defended freedom.
When meeting Frank Parkinson, Jr. you might not be able to tell he was born on February 6th, 1923, with his strong handshake and sharp memory; but many Texomans recognize the Old High graduate as the owner of Westmoreland Pools & Spas.
After installing pools for generations of Texomans, at 95 years old, Parkinson still goes out on jobs for this generation, though he says he doesn’t do it by himself.
“My son and them take care of construction. We’ve been in the construction business. We do lots of new pools and remodel pools. Now, we’re doing it for their grandkids and some of their great grandkids,” explained Parkinson.
Before the latest generation, came what many regard and what Parkinson is part of: the greatest generation. Parkinson was a B-24 gunner in 448th Air Group, 712th Squadron in the U.S 8th Air Corps, now known as the Air Force. He was one of many providing air-cover on D-Day: June 6th, 1944.
To this day, Parkinson’s memories remain vivid.
“A lot of boats and stuff. A lot of personnel. Terrible,” said Parkinson pausing. “Terrible deal. I’m not gonna put it behind me. No reason.”
In fact, Parkinson and his son Craig will soon visit the site of D-Day. Craig Parkinson is a recently retired teacher and says he discovered the opportunity to take the trip on a visit to Perrin Air Force Base.
“That’s where this Liberty Jump Team puts on an exhibition for the kids and talks to the kids and things like that,” said Craig Parkinson.
With the help of Lieutenant Colonel Peter Plank and Liberty Jump Team Veterans Affairs, the Parkinson’s trip is free. This will also be Craig’s first visit as well.
“To be at the cemetery there, to go on the beach and everything like that, I’ve seen pictures; but of course, this is going to be real life,” Parkinson stated.
The elder Parkinson says after all these years, the reason for returning is simple.
“Just [to] see it. [It] Don’t make me nervous. I’m gonna cry though,” said Parkinson.
“I’m glad we got it taken care of the way it was taken care of. I imagine you are too and anyone that’s an American is sure glad and all the English and all the other nations,” Parkinson pointed out.
Parkinson said he did what his country asked him to do: plain and simple.
And as he enjoys his life in Wichita Falls and not as busy a work schedule, Parkinson is able to reflect on his 95 years, including raising a family and meeting so many friendly Texomans.
“A great life, a good life. I like people.”
On this Memorial Day, we salute those people, including Frank Parkinson, who have answered their country’s call.
Parkinson and his son will be leaving for France on Wednesday and will be there for a week.
While there, Parkinson will receive the French Medal of Honor during a ceremony.