A Region 8 Soldier is Laid to Rest

June 29, 2004 -- Posted 10:00 p.m. CDT

Heber Springs, AR -- The 16th Arkansan to die fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom was laid to rest in Region 8.

21 year old Marine Corporal Tommy, T-J Parker was buried on Tuesday with full military honors at the Clebourne County Memorial Cemetery.

Marines say he was carrying on the tradition of all the marines that came before him.

"He served his country so honorably, and with so much dignity, I wish every Arkansan could understand that," said one former Marine.

T.J. Parker is being remembered as a man, who when he was just 17 years old, asked his parents to sign a release to allow him to join the Marine Reserves, and he served his country with great passion, a legacy that will always be admired.

"Once a Marine, always a Marine, you never lose that esprit de corps, you're always faithful to the Marine Corps," said a fellow Marine.

Corporal Parker was faithful to every other area of his life. Though short lived, his memory lives on in the hearts of his parents, his wife Carla, 2 year old daughter, and friends.

"T.J. was a man who absolutely believed in absolutes," said family pastor Mark Bishop. "He believed absolutely that God was his Savior and Lord. He believed in his country, in the Marines, and Carla."

"It's kind of frightening when she said I don't know how I'm going to cope and I said you will be taken care of," said military widow Dianne Harris. "I said you've always got to think of your daughter and I said you're not forgotten and you're not alone."

Corporal Parker's Church has established the "T-J Parker Memorial Fund" for his wife and daughter. Donations can be made at any U-S bank location.