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Calendar >  City of Vista Proclaims May 2nd Sgt. Maj. Jay Parker Day

City of Vista Proclaims May 2nd Sgt. Maj. Jay Parker Day

By   /  May 3, 2018  /  No Comments


Mayor Judy Ritter and the Parkers


Pat Murphy — Vista, CA Mayor Judy Ritter stood in front of the head table and addressed the overflowing room at the Village Café. The Mayor was reading a City of Vista Proclamation that had been unanimously approved by the City Council. She read the whereas and the wherefore and then proudly announced that the City of Vista had proclaimed today, May 2, 2018, as Sergeant Major Parker Day in the City of Vista. The room burst out in applause and cheering at this news.

Why has this honor been bestowed on this gentleman, you may ask? Is it because he served his country for 36 as a United States Marine? Is he because he retired from the Marine Corp with the highest non-commissioned rank? Is it because he received 13 medals including the Purple Heart? Is it because he volunteered for the City of Vista for over 16 years as a code enforcement officer and later as a member of the Senior Volunteer Sheriff’s Patrol? Is it because he and his wife Ann were the driving force that led to the U.S. Flags being displayed along Main Street in Vista on major holidays? Or, is it because the Sergeant Major was celebrating his 100th birthday today?

Photos by Sonja Hults Photography

It was all the above. It was one of the grandest birthday parties I’ve ever attended. There were many other well-wishers there to pay tribute to Sergeant Major Parker. Several were there bringing even more accolades to this seasoned veteran. Typically, he rarely smiles but today he was smiling almost every minute. However, the first presentation not only brought a smile to his face but I saw a little moisture creep into the corner of his eyes. I knew then that the letter from the Commandant of the Marine Corp, and read to the Sergeant Major by Lt. Col. Tony Mitchell, meant a lot.

State Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, Assembly district 76, a retired Marine himself, wanted to attend the Sergeant Major’s birthday bash. However, the Assemblyman was performing his elected duties up in Sacramento. Tom Garcia represented the Assemblyman and presented Sergeant Major Parker with a beautifully framed proclamation from the California State Assembly. As the proclamation was read by Garcia the Sergeant Major’s interesting career story was outlined. It was a story that Garcia said “took a 100 years to write”. I guess I could call Parker’s story, “From Boxcar to Vista”. That’s because the proclamation cited how the Sergeant Major was riding around the country in boxcars looking for work during the Great Depression. Wanting three meals a day and holes without shoes, the Sergeant Major enlisted with the Marine Corp in 1937 and that began his 36 year “tour of duty”.

After retiring from the Marine Corp, Sergeant Major Parker was still “serving” but this time as a member of the Vista Senior Volunteer Sheriff’s Patrol. 16 members of that group were at the Sergeant Major’s birthday party including one that has a special connection to the Sergeant Major. Tom Fleming who joined the patrol last year and who most Vistans remember as the owner of the former shoe repair business in downtown Vista, is also a retired Marine. Tom enlisted from the state of Arkansas where as it turns out the Sergeant Major Parker served some of his last years as a U.S. Marine. In fact, Parker was in charge of all recruiting for the state of Arkansas and as such he signed Tom’s enlistment paperwork.

Congressman Darrel Issa faced one of the friendliest crowds he has seen this year as he wished the Sergeant Major a happy birthday and presented him with one of the Congressman’s Challenge Coins. Vista City Manager Patrick Johnson and Lenna Welling from Congressman Issa’s office also praised Sergeant Parker’s Community Service.
One of the most moving accolades given to Sergeant Major Parker on his 100th birthday came from the Captain of Vista’s Sheriff Station, Charles, “Chuck”, Cinnimo. Acknowledging Parker’s service to country and community the Captain told the assembly that Parker was a role model for what all citizens should be and specifically that Parker was a personal inspiration. Cinnimo said that Parker’s commitment and leadership were an example for everyone.

Earlier in the day, actually very early in the morning, Master Sergeant Smith of the North County Young Marines supervised a crew of Young Marines as they placed U.S. flags along both sides of Main Street. The Young Marines did this to honor the Sergeant Major for his birthday. The Young Marines also did this because it was Sergeant Major Parker and his wife Ann who spearheaded the project that made the displaying the flags along Main Street on major Holidays a reality. Among the many guests today was the very young Marine, Master Sergeant Smith.

Sergeant Major Parker looked a lot younger than 100 years old. He was full of energy. He was receiving well deserved recognition for a lifetime of service and commitment. I want to have his health and grace when I reach 80. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to Sergeant Major Parker’s next birthday. HooRah!



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  • Published: 6 years ago on May 3, 2018
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  • Last Modified: July 17, 2018 @ 2:39 pm
  • Filed Under: Local

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