JUNE 29, 2004 - Posted at 5:49 p.m. CDT, updated at 7:47 a.m. 6/30/04
HEBER SPRINGS, AR - Marine Corporal Tommy L. Parker, Jr. was remembered yesterday for his heroism in daily life and his service to his country.
The 21-year-old Heber Springs native was killed June 21 in an ambush in Ramadi, Iraq.
Parker was a 2001 graduate of the Triple S Christian Academy, where he dated the woman who would become his wife, Carla Parker. The couple had a daughter, two-year-old Lara. He is also survived by his parents, Tommy and Renatta Parker.
The Reverend John Bishop remembered teaching Parker and coaching him in basketball.
Bishop said Carla Parker told him that her husband said, as he prepared to deploy to Iraq, said that he felt closer to God. Bishop praised Parker's devotion to his faith and said that even though Parker was among tough Marines he would give witness to his beliefs.
The funeral service included two photo tributes to Parker, Bishop said Parker left a strong legacy as a husband and parent. He said people in the military shy from using the term hero but said that's a word he'd apply to Parker.
Several hundred people attended the service, which was often emotional.
Parker and the three other Marines were killed by insurgents and videotaped lying dead in what appeared to be a walled compound in Ramadi.
Parker was the 13th Arkansan to die in combat in Iraq since the March 2003 start of the war.