Here’s a sneak peak of a short article about my dad and his Vietnam experience. It will be published in a series of articles about war veterans from his high school, in Evanston, Illinois:
Horace Parker, ETHS ’63, saw my Blog on Ralph Chute ’50, who died in the Korean War. With that, he wrote to ask me to do a series of articles on ETHS athletes that died in the Vietnam War. I usually stick to pre-1960 stories but this is an exception. Horace Parker was All-State quarterback at Evanston in 1962, so he was in that era of young men that were headed for Vietnam and, in fact, participated himself. He says, “Picture on the left of our great Coach Lazier, providing me with some much needed and very clear advice on my play calling abilities.” (Game shot: Parker, 11, vs. Waukegan).
He says: “The other picture has me on the right, in Army Uniform (101st Aireborne), and my best friend Bob Gibson on the left. ‘Gibby’ was a first team ETHS All Suburban League End, on defense. I played with him all four years. When we went in the service in 1968, I lost track of him for for a while. My mom wrote, saying he was on a Navy Hospital Ship, The Sanctuary, off the coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea. I hopped a medevac helicopter from my base camp taking some wounded guys out to the hospital ship, and had Gibby paged over the speaker system.
“He couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw me, as it had been a few years. They fed me a meal in a fancy Navy dining room in my ugly jungle fatigues. Then he and I went out on deck, got a football from the rec officer, and played catch, the ship’s photographer taking this photo. Note the football. What a moment. I will never forget it. Gibby passed away from natural causes at age 47, but this picture lives on. His collegiate career at Dennison University included something like 12 Varsity letters, four each in football, lacrosse and wrestling. A great, great athlete.”
Those comments and these photos give you an idea of how invested Horace Parker is in ETHS Football and the Vietnam War. Horace, who went to Indiana on a football scholarship himself, told me that 21 Evanston men died in Vietnam and several from Skokie that went to ETHS. Starting tomorrow, and for the next four days, we’ll talk about four of them that were ETHS athletes. Their stories are inspirational, to say the least. Everyone that helped me on the stories mentioned how sports at Evanston were the cornerstone of their lives. There is nothing I can add to that.