Annual Memorial Day Commemoration

Photos by Seneca Media

On Monday, May 31, 2021, the Iroquois Post 1587 & Auxiliary, along with the Seneca Nation, co-hosted a Memorial Day commemoration at the Seneca Allegany Administration Building.

Post Director, Ron Cook Jr welcomed everyone and words were offered by Seneca Nation President, Matthew Pagels. The customary Tolling of the bell & Taps were conducted by Sally Snow (Auxiliary President) and Al George (US Army). Swearing in of post officers was conducted by Dorothy Button, USCG.

Special honorees this year included Kenneth Parker, USMC WWII and Arnold White, USN WWII. Families of the fallen warriors were presented with eagle feathers, in honor of their ultimate sacrifice. A delicious lunch was provided by Chiavettas and closing remarks were given by SNI Treasurer, Rickey L. Armstrong.

The event concluded with a showing of the PBS documentary, Warrior Tradition. We honor all who those made the ultimate sacrifice.

World War II Warrior Veteran Private First-Class
Kenneth Parker

Private First-Class Kenneth Parker enlisted in the Marine Corps 24 February 1941 from Versailles, New York. Qualified as a Rifle Sharpshooter and completed recruit training with the 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Base, Parris Island, SC. On 25 April 1941, PFC Parker was assigned to the Guard Company, Marine Barracks in Washington D.C. with duties of ensuring the security, force protection, screening, training, and evaluating personnel for presidential support operations in and around the Capital White House. (Class A photo enhancement courtesy of Evenhouse Printing).

PFC Parker wanted to expand his service capabilities and volunteered to attend Airborne School on 30 January 1942 and became a Paramarine as part of a special troops’ unit. After graduation Airborne Training, PFC Parker received orders to C Company, 1st Marine Parachute Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Marine Corps Base at Hadnot Point on the New River in North Carolina in June 1942. On the 7th of August 1942, PFC Parker moved with his battalion to a place called Guadalcanal fighting alongside the 1st Marine Raiders during the Tasimboko raid with follow-on combat operations at the battle of Edson’s (Bloody) Ridge where he was wounded in action on the 13th of September 1943. Suffering from high causalities during this time frame, the Marine paratroopers were transported to Camp Kiser in Tontouta, New Calendonia by the end of September 1943 to recover and refit.

After returning state-side and furlough, PFC Parker was reassigned to A Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Marines and made his way back to the Pacific Theater and participated in beach assault rehearsals in January 1945 in Maui, Hawaii. PFC Parker’s unit deployed with the 27th and 28th Marines on 16 February 1945 on LST (Landing Ship, Tanks) from the island of Saipan. On February 19th, 1945, PFC Parker and fellow Marines landed on Red Beach Two, Iwo Jima where intense fighting took place during D-Day. This beach assault was the bloodiest battle in the Pacific theater where PFC Parker along with many of his fellow Marines were fatally injured or killed-in-action. The 28th Marines quickly realized that the Japanese forces were utilizing the summit of Mount Suribachi as a vantage point to direct artillery fire onto the American forces below and the Marines would continue to fight and eventually capture the summit and raise the U.S. Flag on the summit.

PFC Parker’s awards include: two Purple Hearts, Combact Action Ribbon, Navy Presidential Unit Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medals, and the WWII Victory Medal. Honoring our fallen Warrior Private First-Class Kenneth Parker killed in action February 19, 1945. May our Warrior Rest-in-Peace.

Kenneth Parker’s sister Maxine Smith was in attendance to receive this highest honor of the Eagle Feather heirloom. Maxine Smith in turn heir-loomed the Eagle Feather to family member Joseph Skutt to ensure the family legacy would not be forgotten. Biography was read by Iroquois Post 1587 Officer Josette “Nini” Wheeler.

World War II Warrior Veteran Radiomen 2nd Class
Arnold White

Seaman Arnold White enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1940 as a Radio Operator and would participate in six sea battles, including combat operations aboard the U.S.S. O’Brien during World War II. The combat vessel U.S.S. O’Brien destroyer would join Task Force 54 in support of the invasion of Kerama Retto, which became the “Key to Victory at Okinawa.”

On March 27, 1945, a little after 6am, four kamikaze airplanes were spotted skimming the low cloud cover, heading directly for the U.S. destroyer ship O’Brien. The ship’s anti-aircraft guns immediately opened fire peppering the air with explosives and shrapnel, sending two of the Japanese planes crashing into the sea in flames. A third plane was taken down by an American combat air patrol aircraft. Tragically, the U.S.S. O’Brien sustained a critical blow just behind the bridge of the ship from the fourth kamikaze airplane. The plane collided with the ship with a terrible ear-splitting roar transforming the central superstructure into an inferno of leaping flames with blackened twisted metal. The suicide plane carrying a 500-pound bomb hit the radio room just behind the radar room where Radiomen 2nd Class Arnold White was performing his duties when the horrific blow to the ship occurred. Second Class Radiomen Arnold White was killed during this combat action against the Japanese kamikaze attack in support of Task Force 54 invasion operation. (Arnold White photo enhancement courtesy of Evenhouse Printing).

Radiomen 2nd Class Arnold White along with 52 other Sailors who were killed-in-action that day and posthumously received the Purple Heart from the President of the United States. Arnold’s other awards and decorations include the Combat Action Ribbon, World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, Navy Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the Navy Expeditionary Medal. Honoring our fallen Warrior Radiomen 2nd Class Arnold White killed-in-action March 27, 1945. May our Warrior Rest-in-Peace.

Biography was read by Iroquois Post 1587 Officer Nancy Scott.

Photos from the event: