By KLINT SPILLER
11During the early stages of World War II, Parsons was in high school, and one of his buddies told him he was going to join the U.S. Marine Corps.
Parsons, just 17 at the time, replied, "You are? Maybe I'll go with you."
Parsons joined, and after basic training in San Diego, he was sent to fight in the Pacific. Ironically, his buddy failed the test and wasn't admitted.
Parsons said he never considered the ramifications of his decision.
"I never really cared," he said. "I knew a war was on, and that's just the way it was."
Parsons served as a sergeant, helping transport supplies to the front lines.
Enlisted from 1942 to 1946, Parsons saw a lot.
He served in Saipan and saw the flag raised at Iwo Jima, and he also was among the occupational forces in Japan. Parsons even took a picture next to the flag at Iwo Jima, but he never realized how iconic the flag would become.
"We were right there from Day 1," Parsons said about Iwo Jima, a battle resulting in 6,000 Marine casualties and 20,000 wounded. "It was a wicked little island."
Parsons described himself as a roamer during his early years, moving from Colorado to Nebraska to Missouri and back to Nebraska and then Kansas.
It wasn't until he met his future wife, Waunnie, he said he slowed down. After marrying Waunnie, a lifelong inhabitant of Logan, he's lived there ever since.
"He didn't stop until I caught him," she said.
On Feb. 5, Parsons was surprised with the Saipan Liberation Medallion by his wife and J.T. Plummer, a Vietnam War veteran and former state commander with the VFW.
They helped organize a ceremony to give him the medallion and a shadow box containing Parsons' awards and decorations from World War II at the Stockton VFW.
After seeing the sometimes vitriolic response to soldiers returning from Vietnam, Plummer said he knows how important it is to show appreciation for soldiers' service -- both past and present.
"We (at the VFW) are trying our best with these youngsters who are coming back today to reach out to them and to provide them a place to go," Plummer said.
However, Parsons, a humble man, said his service was expected.
"The war was going on, and I figured I thought I ought to go."