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Army Pfc. Daniel R. Parker

Died August 12, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

18, of Lake Elsinore, Calif.; assigned to B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed when he was thrown from a military vehicle as the driver swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle Aug. 12 in Mosul, Iraq.

Soldier from Lake Elsinore killed in Iraq vehicle crash

Associated Press

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. — Pfc. Daniel Parker followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather when he enlisted in the Army last year, believing that military service was not just a family tradition but a public obligation.

“He was proud to be in the Army and proud to be serving his country,” his heartbroken father, Billy Parker, told The Associated Press by phone Wednesday night.

The 18-year-old soldier died in the Iraqi city of Mosul on Aug. 12 after being thrown from his vehicle when the driver swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle, the Defense Department said. Additional details about his death were not immediately available.

Gov. Gray Davis immediately ordered that flags be flown at half-staff over the state Capitol through Saturday.

“As Californians, and as Americans, we are eternally grateful for his sacrifice,” Davis said in a statement.

Parker was sent to the region in March with the 101st Airborne Division. He served with the 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment.

He had long dreamed of joining the Army, said his father, who choked back tears.

He was an active member of ROTC in high school in Lake Elsinore, some 60 miles east of Los Angeles, and had joined the military at age 17. Two weeks after his high school graduation, he left for the Army.

Parker, who is survived by three younger brothers and a younger sister, had also been active in church youth programs and had coached and refereed hockey.

“He had strength of character,” said Billy Parker. “He believed dedication and hard work equals success.”

He was also someone who would stand up for his convictions, his father recalled.

When he saw people in Iraq tear down a statue of Saddam Hussein shortly after U.S. forces arrived in the country, his father said, he told his parents he felt a long-oppressed people were getting their lives back.

“He believed he was doing the right thing and had a just cause.”

Looking at his own life, Parker had hoped to eventually become an Army Ranger.

“Whatever his mission was on Earth he completed it,” his father said.

California soldier killed in Iraq has Oklahoma ties

MEEKER, Okla. — Several Oklahomans are mourning the death of Army Pfc. Daniel Parker, who died last week in Iraq.

Parker was born and raised in Oklahoma City before moving to Lake Elsinore, Calif. He still has relatives in Meeker and Oklahoma City.

Parker was a third-generation Army man, who planned to make the military his life, said his uncle, Don Miller of Meeker.

Miller said Parker often came back to Oklahoma for summer vacation and was always smiling.

The 18-year-old soldier died in Mosul on Tuesday after being thrown from his vehicle when the driver swerved to avoid hitting an Iraqi civilian vehicle, according to a statement from Fort Campbell, Ky., where Parker was stationed before serving in Iraq.

Parker was sent to the region in March with the 101st Army Airborne Division. He served with the 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment.

He joined the Army about a year ago and graduated from boot camp last September at Fort Sill.

Sunday would have been the soldier’s 19th birthday, which makes him one of the youngest to lose his life in the Iraq war and the youngest from the 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell.

On July 23, Parker was part of the team sent to the villa where two sons of Saddam Hussein were hiding. Odai and Qusai Hussein were killed in the gunfight.

Parker’s photo was taken by media after the gunfight and he was on the cover of the Los Angeles Times standing in front of the building, holding his gun.

“The only salvation is that we know he’s in a better place now,” his uncle said. “And the family really believed in him and what he was doing, so that’s helped a little bit.”

A memorial service for Parker was held in Mosul, Iraq, Miller said. Services are pending in California.

— Associated Press

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