PARKS, Allan L. Colonel Allan L. Parks passed on May 21, 2014. He was born in Carthage, Missouri on April 29, 1930, the son of Dr. Roy and Fern Parks who spent their lives as teachers of the Deaf. Dr. Parks served as Superintendent of the Arkansas School for the Deaf for over 20 years. Col. Parks graduated from Auburn University in 1952 and served as the Captain and quarterback of the 1951 football team. He was Ralph "Shug" Jordan's first quarterback, and a rare three sport athlete lettering in football, track and swimming. Following graduation, Col. Parks married Mary Jo Parks of Decatur, Georgia, who also attended Auburn. He then enlisted in the Air Force and completed pilot training. He served as an instructor pilot in all phases of the training process for nine years including a year-long tour as a military advisor to the King of Saudi Arabia in 1958. In August 1963, Col. Parks was assigned to Kadena Air Force Base on the island of Okinawa located off the southern coast of Japan. For the next 3 years, Col. Parks completed 314 combat missions in Vietnam flying both the RF-101 and the F-105 fighter bomber. He was a highly decorated war hero earning the Bronze Star, multiple Distinguished Flying Crosses and Air Medals and four Purple Hearts. Upon returning stateside, he was assigned to serve as the Operations Test and Evaluation Officer for development of the F-111 at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada. He also trained the famed "Harvest Reaper" fighter squadron for combat deployment to Thailand and service in the Linebacker air campaign, the last major effort by the United States to force North Vietnam to sign a peace treaty that preserved South Vietnam. He returned to the Vietnam war in 1971 as a senior military advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to Laos and Director of Operations of the top secret CIA initiative known as Project 404. In that role, Col. Parks was responsible for managing the military operations of the Royal Laotian Air Force and commanding the secret CIA backed American air operation in Laos known as the Ravens. He flew an additional 123 combat missions in a variety of aircraft over hostile territory while in Laos. For his service, he was awarded the Laotian Medal of Honor. Upon his return, Col. Parks served as Chief of Flying Safety at the headquarters of the Tactical Air Command located at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. After retiring from Air Force, Col. Parks accepted a position as Chief Pilot for the Auburn Athletic Department and also held the position of Head Women's Tennis coach. Col. Parks and his wife Mary Jo retired to Panama City Florida. Following Mary Jo's death, Col. Parks relocated to Auburn, Alabama where, in 2004, he married Floyd Haley whom he had met while attending Auburn University. During his retirement, Parks was active in golf, fishing and Auburn football. He is survived by his wife Floyd Parks of Auburn, his children Allan L. Parks, Jr., an Attorney in Atlanta, Georgia, Mary Jo "Jody" Parks Hawkins (Rinnert) of Huntsville, Alabama and Michael H. Parks (Shelley) of Birmingham, Alabama, his grandchildren Allan (Rosy), Courtney Parks Owens (Evan) and Lauren Parks, all of Los Angeles, California, his brothers, Dr. Roy Gilbert Parks (Susan) and Reverend Kenneth Parks (Brenda) and his step sons Thomas (Beth) and Richard (Kathy) Haley and their children Kent (Shelly), Reed (Lindsey). Katie, Sarah, James, Rick, Jacob and Rick Haley, all of Auburn. A memorial service in celebration of his life will be held at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Auburn on Sunday, May 25, 2014, beginning at 3:00 PM. Funeral services for Col. Parks will be held at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in the name of "Big Al" be made to the Wounded Warriors Project, www. woundedwarriorproject.org/donate.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on May 25, 2014