100 years ago, World War I

Published 10:40 am Thursday, October 12, 2017

To the Editor: 

Sheriff Charles W. Parker is my topic for part 2 of my look at World War I from 100 years ago Sheriff Charles W. Parker

There are heroes all around us everyday; law enforcement officers, firemen, emergency medical technicians and ordinary citizens. However, we most often think of heroes as war heroes. There are many of those military heroes in our community, but as we remember the World War from one-hundred years ago, there is one such hero that stands out.

Charles W. Parker was born October 10, 1895 in Hertford County and grew up on his father’s farm in the Menola area. He attended some college, but did not graduate.

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, he was drafted into the US Army on August 15, 1917. Because of his college education, he was commissioned Second Lieutenant. He deployed to Europe with the 371st Infantry Regiment.

In 1918, ninety-nine years ago, Lieutenant Parker was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for bravery. The DSC is the second highest combat award given by the US military, second only to the Medal of Honor.

His DSC citation reads: “The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Second Lieutenant (Infantry) Charles W. Parker, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with Company L, 371st Infantry Regiment, 93rd Division, AEF, near Ardeuil, France, September 29 to 1 October 1918. Severely wounded in the foot, 29 September, Lieutenant Parker remained on duty and ably commanded his platoon until 1 October 1918.”

After the war, First Lieutenant Parker was discharged from the Army on February 28, 1919 and returned to his native Hertford County. He married Minnie W. Parker and they had two children, Minnie and Charles.

In 1933, Charles Parker was elected to the position of Sheriff for Hertford County. He served as Sheriff for 28 years, 1933-1961, the longest serving Sheriff in the history of Hertford County. He had few, if any, deputies and his salary was about $3,000 annually.

Charles W. Parker was a National hero and a Hertford County civil servant whose service began 100 years ago when he entered the US Army and World War I. He has brought great honor to his nation, state and county. Let’s remember that his world 100 years ago was much different than the one we live in today.

As we celebrate Veterans Day on November 11, let us remember the sacrifices of men and women like Sheriff Parker who put their lives on hold to serve our great nation; and then returned to serve and work in our communities as good citizens. God bless all American veterans for their dedicated service to America.

Johnnie Ray Farmer