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Calendar >  A Vista Hero Is Laid To Rest

A Vista Hero Is Laid To Rest

By   /  October 3, 2019  /  1 Comment

Pat Murphy

For a man who was dedicated to country and community, a man who loved his family, his country, and his community, a man who was a perfectionist, and a giant of a man at 5’2”, the ceremony held at Fort Rosecrans overlooking San Diego Bay and the San Diego skyline was pure perfection. A light breeze played with the large flag that was flying at half-mast over the main building of the National Cemetery as cars pulled into the ever growing line of mourners. The clear sky gave a visibility to the hundreds of boats in the bay and the channel. It would have brought a big smile to the Seargent Major’s face.

Every honorably discharged veteran is entitled to a military ceremony. In Sargent Major Joseph J. Parker’s case it was more than an entitlement, it was a well-deserved tribute for a lifetime of service. After over 30 years as a decorated U.S. Marine and after moving to Vista in 1977, this twice wounded hero put on another uniform to serve as a Volunteer Sheriff Deputy for the City of Vista.

His unassuming leadership and good character is what brought car loads of mourners to the service that had been delayed to allow the National Cemetery to provide the Military Ceremony due to this Vistan. The City of Vista was represented by Mayor Judy Ritter and City Business Manager Patrick Johnson. Members of the Young Marines of North County San Diego and the Volunteer Senior Sheriff Patrol were on hand to demonstrate their love and appreciation. Scores of family and friends were also in attendance.

Volunteer Senior Sheriff Patrol Members
and Marie Smith – Young Marines North San Diego

For many the Sgt. Major appeared rigid and a stickler for following rules. Yes, that’s true but underneath that he was a very kind and considerate man. In a very moving eulogy on behalf of the family, his Great Grandson, Dustin told everyone about the loving man whom he simply called “Grandpa”. Dustin recalled many fond memories of the man that few knew. The man that taught Justin how to ride a bike and what responsibility meant.

Brandon & Ann

Another Great Grandson, payed tribute to Sgt. Major Parker in a very special way. You will understand how special when I tell you that Brandon is following in his Great Grandfather’s footsteps. As a career Marine, Brandon was a member of the Honor Guard representing the United States Marine Corps. At the service it was Brandon who carried in his Great Grandpa’s ashes for the interment ceremony and participated in the flag presentation to Anne Parker, the Sgt. Major’s wife of recent years.

It was a gorgeous mid-afternoon atop Point Loma where the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery is located. Everywhere are neat rows and rows of white headstones stretching out as far as the eyes can see over a verdant green landscape. Scattered around this you can see lush foliage, and slightly framed by a cypress tree, a large battleship silently slipped out of the harbor heading for open sea. You could almost imagine the Sargent Major standing on the deck by the rail waving goodbye to everyone assembled in his honor.

With hands over hearts or hands raised to foreheads the quiet attendees watched crisp white gloved hands unfold and refold the flag of the country that the Sgt. Major loved. These heartfelt salutes were held until the thundering sound of the 21 gun salute had faded away. Brandon then retrieved the spent cartridges for the family.

Sergeant Major Joseph J. Parker never sought out acclaim or recognition for his service. He would be the first to tell you he had always just done what needed doing. Yet here on the high ridge at the edge of the Pacific Ocean the assemblage knew that a hero, a real man, and a loving Patriarch had left us. God rest his soul.


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  • Published: 5 years ago on October 3, 2019
  • By:
  • Last Modified: October 4, 2019 @ 8:57 am
  • Filed Under: Local

1 Comment

  1. Kathy Olson says:

    A lovely tribute to a wonderful man and family. May I make a correction, his great grandson’s name is Dustin. Thank you.

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