Guest Post By Tanya S. with the Chennault Aviation & Military Museum
The Chennault Aviation and Military Museum is proud to honor Nolan “Son” Parks. Parks served with one of America’s famous fighting outfits, the 4th Division. During the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944, the 4th Division landed at Utah Beach. Parks went ashore early that morning.
“The fighting on the Beach wasn’t too bad when we landed,” said Parks, “but as we moved inland, the fighting got bad in a hurry.”
It was the mission of the 4th Infantry Division to move inland and link up with elements of the 82nd Airborne Division, then turn and attack toward the port of Cherbourg. Parks was shot by a sniper and hit in the arm. The wound was not serious and he was soon able to return to combat. Casualties were heavy on both sides.
“It was a bloody mess,” Parks said. “A lot of good men died.” Parks and several comrades were bombarded by German artillery fire. Parks was thrown backward and knocked senseless. Parks had been shot to pieces, his torso riddled with hot pieces of metal. “But they got me out of there,” Parks said. “I came home in a full body cast.” He spent a year in the hospital and never fully recovered from his wounds.
The 4th Infantry continued to fight across Northern France to the Ardennes, the Rhineland and to Central Europe. During the war, the 4th Infantry Division suffered some 35,000 casualties, 5,000 killed in action. For Parks, a reluctant warrior, the war was over and he tried to put it behind him. For his service, Parks was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.
The Chennault Aviation and Military Museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm. Admission is free. The museum is located at 701 Kansas Lane in Monroe.