Co. B, BLT 1/4, memorializes lost Marine

8 May 2007 | Sgt. Clinton Firstbrook 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

This is the first in a series of seven articles paying homage to the Marines of the 11th MEU who bravely fought and lost their lives during fighting in An Najaf, Iraq, this August.Under Scottish bagpipes, the men of Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, gathered together Sept. 12 at Forward Operating Base Hotel here to pay homage to one of their own who died in service to his country.On Aug. 18, Weapons Platoon Assault Section Leader Sgt. Harvey Emmit Parkerson was providing ground security for Army tanks in the Wadi Al Salam cemetery when enemy forces attacked his position. After engaging insurgents, Sgt. Parkerson was getting into a defensive position when a mortar round landed near his location, mortally wounding him. "We held the memorial ceremony to provide closure for those who new Sgt. Parkerson and to honor his memory," said Weapons Platoon Commander 1st Lt. David Cedarleaf. "It was their chance to say goodbye and do him proud. This memorial preserves his memory so that he is never forgotten."Parkerson began Marine Corps recruit training Feb. 23, 1999, and graduated June 23, 1999. After completing the school of Infantry, he reported to Co. B, 1st Bn., 4th Marines, Sept. 4, 1999, as a 0341 mortarman. "The first time I met Sgt. Parkerson -- or Lance Cpl. Parkerson as he was known back then -- was on the first day I checked into the company as their new platoon sergeant," said 1st Sgt. Joe Morales, first sergeant, Co. B. "I called a formation to inspect everyone, and I guess he wasn’t passed the word because halfway through the formation, he came down the steps with no shirt on, in board shorts and flip flops. I went over and asked him his name was and he said 'Harv.' I said, 'Okay, is that short for Harvey?' 'Yes,' he replied. 'And does Harvey come with a rank?' I asked. He said, 'I'm a lance.' 'Okay, Harvey,' I said, ‘now where is there just a "lance" in the rank structure?' 'I'm a lance corporal,' he replied. After that, I made him go up and change and come back down." After Parkerson returned, Morales talked about uniformity and maintaining professionalism even out of uniform. "You know who I'm talking to out there," said Morales. "There was no response, so I said, 'Isn't that right, Lance Cpl. Harvey?' Again, no response. 'Don't make me come in there and find you Lance Cpl. Harvey.' About that time he figured out I was talking to him, so he stepped out. I went over and saw Parkerson in his cammies. 'Lance Cpl. Harvey, you're not even in your own cammies, are you? He said, 'No, gunnery sergeant, these are mine.' 'You told me your name's Harvey," I replied. He said, 'That's my first name, gunnery sergeant.' After that, I thought I was going to have a problem with this guy."A few weeks later, Morales held another formation about proper civilian attire for going out on liberty. Out of all the Marines present, one stood out as a perfect example. Morales pulled him out of the formation to show everyone what proper civilian attire looks like. "After pulling him out of formation, it was then I noticed who I was using as an example," said Morales. "It was Lance Cpl. Parkerson. We would always laugh when we talked about that story.”From January 2000 to May 2004, Parkerson deployed four times with 1/4, participating in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom I and II. "Sergeant Parkerson was a careerist," said Gunnery Sgt. Larry Buenafe, a platoon sergeant. "He put his troops and his Marine Corps family ahead of everything else in his life. He was soft spoken but fought to get where he was, and he always wanted to better himself. He didn't have to come out here. He could've stayed home. He had all ready gone on three tours with us. He trained his Marines for a year before we received orders to deploy, and he told me wasn't about to leave them when they would need him the most."After deploying to Iraq once again, Parkerson was transferred from the mortars assault section to the ground assault section, where he quickly found his niche. "Sergeant Parkerson learned everything about our job within two weeks," said Cpl. Adam Schwarze, assault section leader, Weapons Platoon. "He took me under his wing and helped me grow as a leader along with keeping me motivated. He was a sergeant, but he wasn't afraid to talk to his Marines person to person when needed. He always made sure none of us had any problems."While Parkerson placed emphasis on leadership and motivation, integrity was his top virtue, which stood out among the rest."He always said you have to be honest with yourself before being honest with others," said Buenafe. Today Parkerson's photo lies in front of the B Co. office alongside the photos of two other Marines who lost their lives in Iraq one year ago. "Everything the Marine Corps was what he was all about," said Morales. "He motivated his Marines to love their MOS. What it comes down to was that he was a leader of Marines who set the bar for everyone else. He was a Marine’s Marine, and we’re never going to forget him."Parkerson is survived by his wife, Amanda Parkerson, sons Matthew and Harvey IV, father Harvey Parkerson Jr. and mother Lori Moreno."Sgt. Parkerson was a superb Marine, but an even better husband and father," said Capt. Samuel H. Carrasco, company commander, B Co. "It is because of men like him that our families sleep safe and sound at home."God Bless Harvey and those that loved him. He will always remain in the hearts of the men of Co. B, 1st Bn., 4th Marines."

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