Let the memory of Pfc. Daniel be with us forever
  • Passed away on August 12, 2003 .

18, of Lake Elsinore, Calif.; assigned to B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed when he was thrown from a military vehicle as the driver swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle Aug. 12 in Mosul, Iraq.

Soldier from Lake Elsinore killed in Iraq vehicle crash

Associated Press

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. — Pfc. Daniel Parker followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather when he enlisted in the Army last year, believing that military service was not just a family tradition but a public obligation.

“He was proud to be in the Army and proud to be serving his country,” his heartbroken father, Billy Parker, told The Associated Press by phone Wednesday night.

The 18-year-old soldier died in the Iraqi city of Mosul on Aug. 12 after being thrown from his vehicle when the driver swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle, the Defense Department said. Additional details about his death were not immediately available.

Gov. Gray Davis immediately ordered that flags be flown at half-staff over the state Capitol through Saturday.

“As Californians, and as Americans, we are eternally grateful for his sacrifice,” Davis said in a statement.

Parker was sent to the region in March with the 101st Airborne Division. He served with the 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment.

He had long dreamed of joining the Army, said his father, who choked back tears.

He was an active member of ROTC in high school in Lake Elsinore, some 60 miles east of Los Angeles, and had joined the military at age 17. Two weeks after his high school graduation, he left for the Army.

Parker, who is survived by three younger brothers and a younger sister, had also been active in church youth programs and had coached and refereed hockey.

“He had strength of character,” said Billy Parker. “He believed dedication and hard work equals success.”

He was also someone who would stand up for his convictions, his father recalled.

When he saw people in Iraq tear down a statue of Saddam Hussein shortly after U.S. forces arrived in the country, his father said, he told his parents he felt a long-oppressed people were getting their lives back.

“He believed he was doing the right thing and had a just cause.”

Looking at his own life, Parker had hoped to eventually become an Army Ranger.

“Whatever his mission was on Earth he completed it,” his father said.

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