By Ashley Rader
World War II veteran Herman Parker served in the 30th Infantry Division, which was one of the most highly regarded infantry regiments in the European theater.
Parker, who is 93 years old, joined the National Guard in April 1940. The Elizabethton National Guard was mobilized in Sept. 16, 1940, with the Army’s 30th Infantry Division, 117th Infantry Regiment.
The 30th Infantry Division was named the No. 1 Infantry Division in the European theater by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s historian, was known as the “Workhorse of the Western Front” during World War II and “Roosevelt’s SS troops” by the German forces who had to face them on the battle field. The division also earned the nickname “Old Hickory” in honor of President Andrew Jackson.
Parker served in the Battle of Normandy, the Ardennes-Alsace offensive and the Battle of the Bulge. He was a part of the northern France, Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns. He was also a part of the first Allied troops to enter Belgium and Holland and was with the forces that broke through the Siegfried line in northern France, a defensive line of anti-tank defenses installed by the Germans.
For all his accomplishments, Parker maintains a humble view of his involvement in World War II.
“I didn’t do any more than anybody else,” he said. “I didn’t have to go through near what a lot of them did.”
Parker was 20 years old when signed up for the National Guard. He alone with 129 other Carter County soldiers were mobilized before the start of World War II. After completing training in the United States, he was sent to England in February 1944 for more training to prepare for landing on Normandy beach. Parker landed on Normandy on June 15, around a week after D-Day.
“They said we had a six-mile front,” he said. “We went in five miles the first day. The second day we went in 10 more miles and that is when the fighting started. There was shells coming in once in a while. That night there was shooting going on. That was the first time I was in combat. I think everybody was still a little nervous about all that.”