On Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, after 67 years, a Moore County family will finally receive the proper recognition they deserve for the loss of a family member during World War II.
Frank Wilburn Parks was born July 27, 1921 in the Hurdlow community of Moore County to William Frank Parks (1890-1959) and Mamie Dora (Spencer) Parks (1890-1980). Wilburn’s paternal grandparents were John Elbert Parks (1864-1904) and Mattie Elizabeth (Edens) Parks (1867-1921). His maternal grandparents were Clair Erasmus Spencer (1867-1946) and Emma Della (Smith) Spencer (1869-1892). Wilburn grew up, attended school in Moore County and worked on the family farm until October 1944 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army during WWII. After a short period of basic training, he was shipped overseas to the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre, where he was engaged in combat during the invasion and liberation of the Philippine Islands. Wilburn was killed in action on March 19, 1945 while serving with the 172nd Infantry Unit on the Island of Luzon in the Philippines. Like so many of our brave service men and women, who have given their lives for our country, he was just 23 years old.
Three years later, the body of PFC Frank Wilburn Parks was brought home to the United States and buried in Lynchburg Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon, June 29, 1948. Funeral services were held at the Lynchburg Methodist Church with T.L. Crumpton and Rev. Gueary Reed officiating. Military rites were conducted by Lynchburg American Legion Post 192. Pallbearers for the burial were John Parks Spencer, Robert Norman, Bull Norman, Ray Hensley, James Clark and Edd Grammer. Harrison Funeral Home was in charge of the funeral arrangements.
A special presentation of medals and awards for PFC Frank Wilburn Parks will be presented to the Parks family at the Lynchburg American Legion Post 192 Memorial Day Ceremony to be held at the War Memorial Monument on the lawn of the Moore County Courthouse on Monday, May 28 at 11 a.m.
The awards will be presented to the siblings of PFC Frank Wilburn Parks, who are Clara (Lawson) Norman, Juanita (Thomas) Tipps, Miss Emma Parks, Claude (Alberta Stone) Parks, Faye (Clifford) Carroll. One sibling, Lela, who married Ralph West, died in 2009.
The family will receive five Gold Star Lapel Pins, one for each sibling along with the cards that describe this identification; a Bronze Star Medal Set (engraved) and certificate signed by the Adjutant General of the Army and Orders; a Purple Heart (engraved) and certificate signed by the Adjutant General of the Army and Orders; an Army Good Conduct Medal Set and Orders; an Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal Set with three Bronze Stars and Bronze Arrowhead Device; a World War II Victory Medal set; a Combat Infantryman Badge; and a Philippine Liberation Ribbon set with one Bronze Service Star.
Writing this story brings back lots of memories for me. Although Wilburn was a few years older than me, I remember him and his family well from the days when I was growing up in the Lois community. Wilburn and his siblings grew up on their parents’ farm on Wet Prong Farris Creek between Lois and Hurdlow. I remember him working on the farm and saving enough money to buy his first motorcycle. My first ride on a motorcycle was with Wilburn. In fact, all of my rides on a motorcycle were with him. He really and truly enjoyed motorcycle riding and during his short life, he took a lot of trips to different locations on weekends or anytime he had a few days off from work. I also remember Wilburn as being an outstanding young man that everyone, young and old, admired.
Wilburn’s first cousin, Joe Ernest Parks (1931-2008) lost a leg during combat on August 15, 1952 with the Marines in the Korean War. Joe was a son of John Clifford Parks (1894-1976) and Elma May (Ashby) Parks (1895-1960). Cliff Parks was a veteran of WWI.
On this Memorial Day, everyone should take a few minutes to remember PFC Frank Wilburn Parks and all the other servicemen and women from Moore County and across America that have given their lives during war so that we can have our freedom.