Operation Tribute to Freedom

OTF Soldier Story for January 3, 2011 - Cpl. Nicholas Parker

Corporal Nicholas Parker

Current Unit: Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment
Current Position: Senior Line Medic
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Fort Hood, Texas
Hometown: Swartz Creek, Mich.
Years of Service: 3

When Cpl. Nicholas Parker was 20 years old, he knew that he wanted a job that would provide him with the ultimate adrenaline rush. Prior to enlisting in the Army, Parker worked in a hospital trauma center and realized that he thrived in the chaotic environment. Now, as a combat medic, Parker is able to combine his passion for medicine with his desire to serve in the military.

“I was interested in medicine and military service, so it was the right fit at the right time,” he said. “One day I just finally got up the courage to walk in to the recruiter’s office. Now I have a job that I love.”

Combat medics often must risk their own lives to provide medical aid to their wounded comrades, and Parker is no exception. During his yearlong deployment to Iraq in 2009, he served as the medic assigned to the commanding sergeant major’s security and protection detachment, and accompanied the command sergeant major on all of his daily activities, from the mundane to the action-packed.

Throughout his deployment, Parker’s medical training was put to the test when multiple convoys underwent a series of attacks. One incident in particular greatly impacted the young Soldier.

“I remember it was really dusty outside, so we couldn’t fly anywhere. A guy from our joint security station was caught in an attack on his way out. He lost both of his legs that day,” he said.

Parker helped escort his wounded comrade to the combat support hospital in Baghdad, but on the way back, his convoy was caught in another ambush. During the skirmish, the rear truck commander sustained a serious head injury. Though they were still taking heavy enemy fire, Parker crawled on the ground to reach the wounded Soldier and provided the medical care needed.

“Military service has given me the ability to operate under fire and save my friends’ lives despite danger to myself,” he said, noting that everything happened so fast that day last year that he relied on his instincts and his training to respond quickly.

For his selfless actions, the Soldier was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, as well as the Combat Medic Badge.

Although he says the medal was an honor to receive, the Soldier has learned many other lessons throughout his last three years in the Army, and his service has propelled him to excel in other areas of his life. Parker is currently a student at Central Texas College working to obtain a nursing degree with an emphasis in trauma and trauma management.

After finishing his bachelor’s degree, Parker’s goal is to become a commissioned officer, and have the opportunity to lead other medics overseas.

“I’ll miss the action of theater,” he said. I thrive off the adrenaline rush--but nothing beats actually going out and doing what you have to do [in combat].”

Now back at Fort Hood, Texas, he is currently assigned to the Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment. Parker lives in the Killeen area with his wife, also an Army combat medic, and their young son.

In the immediate future, however, Parker is looking forward to being a part of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, in San Antonio, Texas.

“It’s very cool to participate; it’s obviously not something that happens to everyone. I feel honored,” he said.

The game will air on Saturday at noon on NBC. For more information about the game, visit www.goarmy.com.

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