52 years of service by an ‘ace’

| August 14, 2015 | 0 Comments
Photo courtesy of  599th Transportation Brigade Public Affairs Denison “Ace” Parker (center) is flanked by his father and grandfather on the day he joined the Navy in August, 1959.

Photo courtesy of
599th Transportation Brigade Public Affairs
Denison “Ace” Parker (center) is flanked by his father and grandfather on the day he joined the Navy in August, 1959.

Donna Klapakis
599th Transportation Brigade Public Affairs

 

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — While someone who served 25 years in the military or other government service is usually considered as having contributed a lifetime of service to the nation, one employee in the 599th Transportation Brigade, here, has more than doubled that total.

Denison “Ace” Parker first enlisted in the Navy in 1959.

Ace Parker

Ace Parker today.

“I never thought about anything else as a career or considered other services,” Parker said. “My father was in the Navy. I would have joined for 20 years when I first enlisted if I could have.

“I volunteered for submarine service as an E-3 and went to school to become a guided missile man. I was in the submarine service virtually my whole career,” he added.

After retiring from the Navy as a senior chief in 1983, Parker worked for the Air Force as a temporary hire for 10 months. He then spent two years at an insurance company in Honolulu, which constitutes his only time away from government service.

His first position as a transporter was at U.S. Army Pacific (then called U.S. Army Western Command) from 1987-1991. Parker was hired by the 599th on Aug. 27, 1991, not long after the unit moved from Korea to Hawaii.

As a traffic management specialist in the command operations center of the brigade, Parker keeps account of ships, the brigade’s cargo, and tracks down missing cargo.

“Ace is like a dog with a bone,” said former 599th commander, retired Col. Courtney Taylor, regarding Parker’s tenacity in tracking.

“I really like tracking down missing cargo; it’s like detective work,” Parker said. “That is the favorite part of my job. Even people at CENTCOM call me for help tracking their stuff.”

“In 2009 when I was standing up the command operations center, I was given my pick of available personnel,” said then-COC chief, Army Reserve Lt. Col. James Congrove. “Ace Parker was the top of my list. His willingness to be the focal point for theater-wide cargo tracking and reporting, accurate to within 24-hour updates was ambitious to be sure, but he was without question the right man for the task.

“As the COC chief I could routinely rely on his experience base of over 50 years, having demonstrated many times his skills as a transporter far beyond that of his peers,” Congrove added.

Retired Army Col. John Wemlinger, 599th commander from August 1991 to July 1993, was Parker’s first commander at the unit.

“Ace is totally dedicated to the mission of the SDDC,” Wemlinger said of Parker. “He was always advocating on the importance of strategic transportation solutions to defense challenges. His great, gregarious personality played well with our corporate counterparts, without whom SDDC would be completely without means to accomplish its mission.”

Parker makes sure visitors to the COC feel welcome.

“I can count on Ace will always have me set up with my own cup of coffee and usually donuts in the morning when we go into the command operations center for an early (video teleconference),” said Col. Shannon Cox, former commander of the 599th. “He makes wonderful coffee.”

Wemlinger reminisced about earlier versions of Parker’s coffee.

Photo courtesy of 599th Transportation Brigade Public Affairs  Denison "Ace" Parker sits in the captain's chair on a Military Sealift Command ship at Naha Military Port, Okinawa, during an exercise designed to test the military's ability to move ammunition Turbo CADS (containerized ammunition distribution system) in 1992.

Photo courtesy of 599th Transportation Brigade Public Affairs
Denison “Ace” Parker sits in the captain’s chair on a Military
Sealift Command ship at Naha Military Port, Okinawa, during an exercise designed to test the military’s ability to move ammunition Turbo CADS (containerized ammunition distribution system) in 1992.

“He claimed he’d learned how to make coffee while chief of boat on a nuclear submarine. I was convinced it contained some nuclear waste he must have smuggled from the vessel’s reactor. Sometimes he had donuts. We would swap friendly insults over the strong brew and then get down to business,” he said.

People with and for whom Parker has worked express respect and affection for him.

“I can honestly say that I love Ace,” said Cox.

“I have been very fortunate in my civilian and military careers to have worked with talented men and women who knew their jobs and lived the maxim of the SDDC commanding general at that time, ‘committed, dependable and relentless.’ Ace is all of those things and more,” said Congrove.

In 2011, Congrove nominated Parker for the Army transporter’s award, the Honorable Order of Saint Christopher. Instead of being granted or denied, the nomination was upgraded by the chief of transportation to the Ancient Order of Saint Christopher.

 

 

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