Choctaw veteran honored for WWII service
By Shelia Kirven
November 1, 2021
Bill Parker, 96, didn’t start to talk much about his World War II days until just a few short years ago when he decided to call a Tulsa newspaper to tell his story. A Tulsa resident himself, his story came out in the Tulsa World on July 4, 2016.
According to Parker, originally from Haskell County, he was the first U.S. soldier on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He miraculously survived the invasion unharmed, though the mission was reported to have had 96% casualty loss. In an interview with the Tulsa World, Parker explained that it’s hard to forget an experience like that.
“I think about it every night. There’s no way getting away from it,” said Parker. “I spent 70 some odd years trying to forget all this. I guess it needs to be brought out in the open. I’d like to let the younger generation know that there is nothing free and that we paid a big price for being free.”
Parker was drafted in 1943.
He arrived in England in January 1944 and was assigned as a replacement troop to the 116th Infantry’s 2nd Battalion. He was tasked with leading the charge out of the English Channel and onto the French beach, the first assault on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.
In a tulsapeople.com story written on him, Parker said he “learned he marched 600 miles (some of that with a foot so swollen from shrapnel, he briefly thought he was going to lose it) across France and Germany until ‘I met the Russians on the other side of the Elbe River.'”
Parker was honored by the Choctaw Nation on Sept. 14, 2021, for his service.
“I don’t know if you realize what you mean to us as the Choctaw Nation,” said Chief Batton. “We fight, but we fight for the right causes. We fight for the good things in life and that’s what you’ve done. You fought for our freedom. You represent Choctaw, you represent Oklahoma coming from the big city, McCurtain, Oklahoma, and the United States. I just appreciate you so very much for all that you’ve done and what you stand for.”
During the ceremony, Parker was presented with a Choctaw flag and other items at a special lunch hosted by the All Veterans Association at Kirk of the Hills in Tulsa.
Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr. believes Parker’s fortitude is a testimony to his strong Chahta blood.
“I am always humbled to hear the stories of our great Chahta veterans. They have endured much yet exemplify the faith, family, and culture of their tribe. What a special individual,” said Austin.
Parker didn’t even talk about his wartime experiences with his wife Colleen, who he fell in love with while in high school and married in 1945. The pair met at a pie supper while they were students at McCurtain High School. Colleen passed away in 2018.
Finally, in 2016 he decided to contact the Tulsa World. He said after his story came out, he received calls and letters from all over the world.
Parker is a Tvskha Chahta and credits his older brother Jim for making him tough enough to survive WWII.
According to Chief Batton, Parker says he rides his horse every day and epitomizes living out the Chahta spirit of faith, family and culture.