Major Floyd B. Parks, USMC
Commander of Marine Fighting Squadron Two Twenty One (VMF-221) during the Battle of Midway. Posthumously awarded the Navy Cross: "For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous devotion to duty as Squadron Commander for Marine Fighting Squadron TWO TWENTY-ONE, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the Battle of Midway, June 4, 1942. Leading his squadron in a dauntless and aggressive attack against a vastly superior number of Japanese bomber and fighter planes, Major Parks aided in disruption the plans of the enemy and lessening the effectiveness of their attack, thereby contributing materially to the success of our forces. As a result of his courageous and daring tactics and because of the circumstances attendant upon this engagement, there can be little doubt that Major Parks gallantly gave up his life in the service of his country. He displayed the characteristics of a fine leader and excellent airman in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
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Off to see the world...
1928-1936 | Annapolis, Philadelphia &amp; Pensacola
Floyd Bruce Parks enlisted in the Navy in 1928 and served two years as a sailor aboard destroyers; he received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1930. More interested in reading Colliers and Saturday Evening Post than textbooks, Parks earned the infamous Black "N," a dubious award given for major infractions, on a number of occasions. He was part of the Midshipman Choir and played on Annapolis' water polo team, as well as participating in intramural football & swimming. Parks graduated in the upper third of his class of 1934, earning him the choice of a commission in the Navy or Marine Corps. He was appointed a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps on June 1 of that year. He was assigned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard for a year before he joined the cruiser USS ASTORIA (CA-34). In May 1936 he reported to NAS Pensacola, Florida for flight training. While swimming in theGulf of Mexico Parks, aided by an enlisted man, rescued a private from drowning and won the commendation of his superior officers for "quick action, good judgment and swimming ability".
1911-1928 | Salisbury, Missouri
Born in Salisbury, Missouri to Elizabeth Ann (nee Bowman) & James B. Parks, Floyd was their first son together. James was widowed from an earlier marriage (Emma), by whom James C. Parks was born in 1902. Floyd, named for one of his maternal uncles (Floyd Bowman), became the "middle child" when his younger brother, Billy Bowman Parks, was born in 1921; their father died on 3 February 1924. Floyd graduated from the local high school with the class of 1928.
Marine Corps duty
Designated a Naval Aviator on 12 June 1937, Parks was assigned to NAS San Diego, California in August; he married the former Margaret Elizabeth Murray, an El Paso native, on 23 December 1938 in San Diego. In June 1940 he returned to the NAS Pensacola for duty as a flight instructor. In May 1941, he was transferred to the First Marine Aircraft Wing, Fleet Marine Force, Quantico, Virginia, and received training in dive bomber tactics. He remained in that assignment until March 1942, when he joined the Second Marine Aircraft Wing in San Diego, for deployment to Midway. His wife, Margaret, returned to El Paso to stay with her mother during his deployment.
He was promoted to the rank of Major on 8 May 1942, and given command of Marine Fighting Squadron Two Twenty One (VMF-221) during the Battel of Midway. Park's squadron was predominantly equipped with Brewster F2A-3 (Model B-439) fighter aircraft, supplemented by a handful of Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats, all handed down from U.S. Navy squadrons.
During the battle of Midway, Parks was killed in action on the first day of the battle on June 4, 1942, while leading his squadron against a superior force of Japanese fighters and bombers attacking the island.
1942-1973 | Orange, Texas
Parks' body was never recovered. Posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism at Midway, he was one of twenty-two aviators in his squadron to be so decorated - most of them posthumously. On 31 March 1945 a Gearing-class destroyer was launched in his name, USS FLOYD B. PARKS (DD-884); his widow was present for the launching ceremony at Orange, Texas.
Floyd's younger brother also received and appointment to the Naval Academy. Billy Bowman Parks (class of 1942) made a career of the Navy; he was a Lieutenant Commander working in Washington D.C. at the time of their mother's death on 9 October 1961.
The FLOYD B. PARKS served in both the Korean & Southeast Asia conflicts; she was decommissioned in July 1973.