Daniel G. Parker
First Lieutenant, United States Army
10 May 2004
A North Carolina native is one of three people killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq on Friday. And through this tragedy, the family of Sanford native Daniel Parker, 56, is speaking out.
"I think I walked in every room in the house saying 'No.' over and over and over. I lost all composure,” said daughter Shannon Parker.
For Kara and Shannon Parker, the past 72 hours have been unreal.
"I was sure it wasn't him. They've made a mistake,” said daughter Kara.
But it wasn't. Their father, Dan Parker, was killed Friday in Iraq by a roadside bomb.
"Kind of foggy, but I just remember I couldn't feel any part of my body. I fell,” said Kara.
Instead of becoming angry, Shannon and Kara have become determined to remind people that the majority of the thousands of Americans still in Iraq are putting their lives on the line to help the Iraqi people.
“We don't hear enough about the good stuff that we're doing over there,” said Shannon. “The water we provide and the food we provide, and about the safety and security we provide."
Dan was working security for a Halliburton subsidiary for more than 10 months before he was killed. Kara and Shannon say during that time he worked with hundreds of Iraqis. Shannon said the overwhelming majority are happy that Americans are there.
"They sent some prayer beads,” Shannon remembered. “And few of them told my father to tell my mother thank you for letting your husband come here and help us."
Dan severed two tours in Vietnam, and spent 21 years as a border guard. He retired from his border guard position so he could do his part in Iraq.
“I didn't understand it,” said Kara. “I didn't like it."
But after a trip home his stories changed Kara’s heart.
"He felt so much pain for them,” she said. “What they had been going through their entire lives, he understood it finally. He said, 'I have to help these people.'"
And now both Kara and Shannon have no doubt their father didn't lose his life in vain.
"He said, 'They don't know what freedom is and that we were there to teach them,’” said Shannon.
Dan Parker will be buried with a border guard's
full military honor. The service is tentatively set for this Friday at
Arlington National Cemetery.
A former instructor at the U.S. Border Patrol Academy here has become the area's first civilian casualty in Iraq.
Halliburton Corp. employee Daniel Parker, 56, of Summerville died Friday in Iraq after a bomb exploded near his military convoy as he was traveling to Baghdad International Airport, according to information on the Houston-based contractor's Web site.
Parker was the 35th Halliburton employee killed in Iraq, the company said.
He worked for Halliburton subsidiary KBR, which has thousands of people working in Iraq and Kuwait, performing jobs for the government that range from extinguishing oil fires to delivering fuel and food. The good pay - workers can earn up to $120,000 tax-free for a year - has drawn many applicants.
Parker's family and friends said they will remember Parker for the love he had for America and his dedication to serve others.
He served two tours of duty in the Vietnam War and was a second lieutenant and artillery officer. After the war, he went to college and joined the Border Patrol. He came to South Carolina to teach at the Border Patrol Academy in Charleston. He retired in June and got an offer from KBR to work in Iraq.
"He wasn't through giving of himself," said Mario Martinez, assistant chief of the Border Patrol Academy and Parker's supervisor there.
Parker's brother Jaimie said Saturday night that the family worried about Dan Parker every day. "He was proud to do for this country," Jaimie Parker said. "He was doing what he could until the end."
Jaimie Parker thinks his brother was attracted by the challenge of a difficult job, but he wouldn't say what that was and the company did not specify Dan Parker's job.
On a visit home in March, Dan Parker participated in a VFW Poker Run and had just bought a Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic and upgraded the motor. "He was very, very proud of it. He's got it jacked up in the garage with all kinds of covers on it," Jaimie Parker said.
Dan Parker is survived by his wife and two daughters.
A memorial service likely will be held at the Border Patrol Academy. While final plans are not complete, Jaimie Parker said his brother's body will be cremated and his ashes placed at Arlington National Cemetery, where his father and uncle are buried.
"He was the rock in our family," Jaimie Parker
said. "He was always there for us to lean on. That's what makes it so tough
right now, is that he's not going to be there anymore."
As an officer in Vietnam, Parker had been asked to help destroy a country; now he felt he had the chance to help rebuild one.
"He always put actions behind words. He wanted to do something that had meaning," said Jacquie Parker, his wife of more than 30 years.
When he was killed, his body was sent to northern Virginia to await burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
His wife arranged for a viewing so people could see her husband had not been blown to pieces. She made sure he was in his full-dress Border Patrol uniform. The goatee he had grown overseas did not comport with the dress code he honored, so she carefully shaved it off.
Then he was cremated.
There is a long wait for ceremonies at Arlington.
Parker's burial is scheduled for Wednesday, two days after Darrin Grant
leaves for Iraq.