Sen. Roger Wicker has presented a WWII veteran with a very long overdue Combat Action Ribbon.
Howard “Jeff” Jefferson Parker, Jr. was awarded the ribbon on Friday after extensive research of his service records showed he had engaged in combat while serving as a member of the Navy Armed Guard in 1944.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to thank people who have stepped forward, even decades and decades ago, to keep us free and to win our peace and freedom again,” Wicker said in a statement. “Mr. Parker served admirably under very trying conditions in the Pacific, under active fire. Only about fifteen percent of servicemen actually see combat as he did. He is very deserving of the Combat Action Ribbon.”
According to a statement from Wicker’s office, “Parker entered the Navy Armed guard as a gunner a day before his 18th birthday.”
“During World War II, Parker helped protect war-related cargo being transported from the West Coast of the U.S. to the South Pacific,” the statement continued. “His convoy came under attack by Japanese submarines and kamikaze aircraft in the vicinity of Guam and Palau. At the end of the war, the mission changed to transporting former Japanese POW’s from China back to Japan.”
Parker was honorably discharged from the Navy in June 1945.
The Department of the Navy established the Combat Action Ribbon in 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War.
The Combat Action Ribbon is the most highly regulated and the most retroactively applied award in both the Navy and Marine Corps.
“When determining eligibility, it takes intensive investigative research by records technicians and the service branch to ensure that a veteran is entitled to the Combat Action Ribbon,” Wicker’s office explained. “The criteria set by the Department of the Navy requires bona fide evidence that the member was engaged in direct combat with an enemy.”
Wicker’s office says they assisted the Parker family with applying for the award.