World War II veteran, son reflect on visit to France for D-Day commemoration

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WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL)—

On Memorial Day 2018, we met with then 95-year-old U.S. Army Air Corps veteran Frank Parkinson, Jr., ahead of his trip to France with his son Craig

In the year of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the now 96-year-old and his son met with Texoma’s Homepage and looked back on what they call a trip they’ll never forget.

“I thought it was good that I was getting to go and it didn’t cost me anything,” Frank Parkinson said.

That’s because Parkinson’s trip back to France was paid for with help of Lieutenant Colonel Peter Plank, the Liberty Jump Team Veterans Affairs and others.

Parkinson had not been back to France since serving in the US Army during World War II and recalled certain things that stood out, such as seeing the Eiffel Tower up close, getting to meet the granddaughters of President Dwight Eisenhower and Gen. George Patton, seeing more than 600 paratroopers drop from the sky and receiving the French Legion of Honor Medal.

What also stood out, Parkinson said, is how grateful the French people are to this day.

‘The people over there were splendid. They gave us everything we needed. I didn’t have to buy one thing. If I went into a store with the display stuff, they wouldn’t take my money,” Parkinson said.

Parkinson’s son Craig said he was moved, seeing how much attention and affection his father was shown.

“If he didn’t sign his autograph one time during the day, he probably signed it 500 hundred, you know, just on anything they had,” Craig Parkinson said. “I know one day, we were in a bookstore and they had an original C-47 door and they had him sign on the door.”However, it was on day one of their trip on Omaha Beach, Craig Parkinson said history flooded his father’s thoughts, as he looked at the graves of the fallen and a special plaque showing the beaches the allied forces landed on.

He was there by himself, kind of looking at it, and it kind of overwhelmed him then.

During this 75th anniversary year of D-Day, many Americans got to see the historic sights on television in great detail. But Frank Parkinson said nothing compares to actually being on the hallowed grounds of where fallen U.S. military members are buried.

“A lot of good men,” Parkinson said with tears welling up in his eyes. “But, that’s over. “I was blessed because I got back.”

“To be there with him, my hat’s off to him,” Craig Parkinson said. “I don’t know I could have done what he did.”

Despite all the medals and recognition from the United States a and France, the elder Parkinson said he doesn’t consider himself a hero.

“I did a service is what I did, and if it’d come up, I’d do it again,” Parkinson said.

Since that won’t happen, instead, on Independence Day, we salute Frank Parkinson and all of those who serve or have served in the United States Armed Forces defending our freedom: no matter the cost.

However, it was on day one of their trip on Omaha Beach, Craig Parkinson said history flooded his father’s thoughts, as he looked at the graves of the fallen and a special plaque showing the beaches the allied forces landed on.

“He was there by himself, kind of looking at it, and it kind of overwhelmed him then.

During this 75th anniversary year of D-Day, many Americans got to see the historic sights on television in great detail. But Frank Parkinson said nothing compares to actually being on the hallowed grounds of where fallen U.S. military members are buried.

“A lot of good men,” Parkinson said with tears welling up in his eyes. “But, that’s over. “I was blessed because I got back.”

“To be there with him, my hat’s off to him,” Craig Parkinson said. “I don’t know I could have done what he did.”

Despite all the medals and recognition from the United States a and France, the elder Parkinson said he doesn’t consider himself a hero.

“I did a service is what I did, and if it’d come up, I’d do it again,” Parkinson said.

Since that won’t happen, instead, on Independence Day, we salute Frank Parkinson and all of those who serve or have served in the US Armed Forces defending our freedom: no matter the cost.

Aside from spending time with his family, Parkinson continues to work at his business, Westmoreland Pool Company in Wichita Falls.

Photos in this story were provided by Craig Parkinson.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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