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By Whitney Wyatt/The Red River Sun—
CHILDRESS – This Veterans Day, Grady Parr is spending time with his family. After 21 years in the Marine Corps and seven tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he recently retired as a Master Sergeant.
“One of my grandfathers was a Marine in the Korean War,” Parr said. “I always had the utmost respect for him and kind of wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
Parr said the Marine Corps gave him an opportunity to start a career and serve his country instead of spending a bunch of money on college and then starting a career. After graduating from Childress High School in May of 1999, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and went to basic training on July 12, 1999.
After finishing training, he was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina from 2001-2004. His first tour in Iraq came in 2003.
“It was pretty much like everyone saw on the evening news,” Parr explained. “We lived and worked out of our vehicles for the most part and were almost always on the move.”
Parr spent 2004-2007 at the Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas before going to the Marine Corps Recruiting Station Chicago from 2007-2010. He was in Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii from 2010-2013 and at Fort Meade in Maryland from 2013-2018.
“I’ve been lucky enough to see and experience a lot of pretty unique places and things,” Parr said. “I went to Afghanistan four times between 2011 and 2016. Living conditions on base were always pretty good, but we’d rough it out on mission, which meant living and eating with our Afghan counterparts.”
He also went back to Iraq in 2015.
“The living conditions were a lot better, but unfortunately, the country was dealing with ISIS then,” said Parr, who was a Signals Intelligence Operator, Instructor, Recruiter, Company Gunnery Sergeant, Equipment Technician and Operations Chief during his time in the military. “I can only speak for myself, but I actually enjoyed the routine of just doing your job, working out and shooting.”
He received multiple awards as a Marine, including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal and Combat Action Ribbon. Parr was in San Antonio from 2018-2020 for his last years in the military. He knew it was time to retire when his body had a hard time keeping up, he said.
“I started getting old,” Parr explained. “I’ve always believed in leading from the front or leading by example. When I started slowing down, I knew it was time to move aside and free that position up for some new blood.”
As for his future, Parr said he was lucky enough to link up with a new business in town, Witt Machine and Tool. He is also looking forward to spending time with his family.
“I’m glad to have them back home,” said Brett Parr, father to sons Grady and Jordan, who was in the Navy. “They have 10 combat tours between them.”
Brett Parr said sometimes his sons were deployed and in combat at the same time.
“We got through it,” he added. “We listened to the radio all the time during the Iraq tours. The hardest part is there is not much contact. It was hard for me, but it’s hard for every parent.”
Thankfully, this Veterans Day there is no worrying – just some proud father moments.
“They served their county and did a great job,” Parr said. “We’re proud they served.”