Army Pfc. James David Parker

Died January 21, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
20, of Bryan, Texas; assigned to the 588th Engineer Battalion (Heavy), 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; killed Jan. 21 in a mortar attack on his forward operating base in Baqubah, Iraq.
Texas soldier killed in Iraq

Associated Press

BRYAN, Texas — Pfc. David Parker’s quick wit and smiling face earned him many friends in Central Texas even though he lived there just two years.

“Every time I was with him there was always something to laugh about,” said his girlfriend, Amy Bolline. “He was such a happy person you couldn’t help but be happy right along with him.”

Parker, 20, was killed in Iraq on Jan. 21 when a mortar round exploded near him at his compound near Baqubah. He joined the Army in October 2002 and had been assigned to the Fort Hood-based 4th Infantry Division’s 588th Engineer Battalion since February.

Another member of the battalion, 22-year-old Spc. Gabriel Palacios, also died in the attack. A native of Nicaragua, he listed Lynn, Mass., as his home in military records.

Although Parker followed his father and grandfather into military service, his family was surprised when as a teen he decided to enlist.

“He just felt like he had some calling to do that,” his father, Jim Parker, told the Bryan-College Station Eagle in Friday’s editions. “That was David; He was always concerned about other people. He was a compassionate kid.”

While in Iraq, Parker volunteered for ordnance disposal, a highly dangerous job that involved clearing paths of mines and booby traps before other troops advanced.

Parker had been back in Bryan on leave as recently as November.

“He was just really together,” his father said. “He missed his family and he was glad to be home, but he was really in his element.”

Parker grew up in San Diego, where he developed a love for surfing, hip-hop and freestyle rapping. Shortly after he graduated from high school, his family moved to Bryan and he came along.

He assembled a crowd of friends in Bryan although he spent most of his time at Fort Hood. David Thomas said he and his two roommates considered Parker an unofficial roommate because he stayed with them so often.

“You’d never see him in a bad mood,” Thomas said. “If you met him you loved him.”

Friends said Parker saw the military as an opportunity to develop discipline, a chance to make it on his own and a vehicle to someday help pay for tuition at Texas A&M, where he hoped to study engineering.

“It hurts, but it still makes me proud to know that he died for his country,” Thomas said. “He’s a hero.”

Parker is survived by his parents and two younger brothers.