Looking back: Three young men served their country well


The eleventh month, eleventh day at the eleventh hour is a special time for us to commemorate those who gave their all in the service of their country.

First called Armistice Day, we now know it as Veterans Day. It is a day to remember sacrifices made and lives lost.

Three young men from Mountlake Terrace sacrificed their lives in South Vietnam; a long way from their homes and families.

Graduating from Mountlake Terrace High School, Ronald Wayne Parker, Jerald David (Rocky) Swan and Richard Edward Wilkins each entered the Army and their lived ended in a country they probably knew little about — in a war that came close to dividing our country.

There was no fanfare when they came home to be buried in their native soil. Later as a tribute to those whose lives were lost in the Vietnam conflict, over 58,000 names have been etched into panels of the Vietnam Honor Wall in Washington, D.C. The names of Ronald, Jerald and Richard are engraved on that wall.

Ronald Wayne Parker
Ronald Wayne Parker

RONALD WAYNE PARKER was born in December 17, 1946 in Texas, the son of Charlie and Cherry Parker. Ronald’s father, Charlie Parker, served in the U.S. Army in both WWII and Korea.

The Parker family moved to Mountlake Terrace and Ronald graduated from Mountlake Terrace High School with the class of 1965. After graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and took his training at Fort Campbell. He was a Pfc. in A Co. (the Gators), 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, USARV. His tour of duty began July 31, 1966.

Ronald died in Kontum Province, South Vietnam on January 6, 1967 — a ground casualty as the result of hostile small arms fire. His body recovered, he is buried at Seattle’s Evergreen-Washelli Memorial Park in the Veterans Memorial section. At Washington D.C.’s Vietnam Wall, Ronald’s name is carved into Panel 13 East-Line 119.

Jerald David Swan
Jerald David Swan

JERALD DAVID “ROCKY’ SWAN was born in Bremerton, Washington, December 18, 1947, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Swan. The family left Bremerton in 1956, eventually moving to Mountlake Terrace. Rocky graduated from Mountlake Terrace High School in May of 1967, where he was on both the football and wrestling team. He lettered in football.

Rocky entered the U.S. Army in June of that year; his tour of duty began January 1, 1968. He served as a Pfc. in C Co., lst Battalion, 501st Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, USARV. He died at Thua Thien, South Vietnam on April 20, 1968. His death was listed as outright; a hostile ground casualty.

Rocky is buried at Evergreen-Washelli Memorial Park in Seattle. Jerald David Swan’s name is etched into a panel of the Vietnam Honor Wall at 51 East-Line 13.

Richard Edward Wilkins
Richard Edward Wilkins

RICHARD EDWARD WILKINS was born October 15, 1946 in Marlboro, Massachusetts; his father was Edward E. Wilkins. Mrs. Wilkins later married John Skutvik, an Alderwood Manor native. Richard’s grandparents were Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Fletcher of Alderwood Manor.

Richard had previously lived in Marysville, but was living with his mother and stepfather when he completed his schooling at Mountlake Terrace High School in 1965. Soon after graduation, he was drafted and entered the Army at that time.

Richard trained with the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis. Sent to Vietnam, he served as a SP4 in C Co., 3rd Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division, USARV. His tour of duty began September 15, 1966. Richard died May 26, 1967 at Pleiku, South Vietnam; a hostile ground casualty as the result of small arms fire.

Richard Wilkins was buried with military honors at Floral Hills Cemetery in Lynnwood. Richard’s sacrifice is commemorated on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. at Panel 20East-Line 125.

It has been over 47 years since Ronald Parker, Jerald Swan and Richard Parker marched off to war – each to lose his life at the age of 20, on a battlefield far from home. Remember them.

Vietnam Honor Wall, Washington, D.C.
Vietnam Honor Wall

If you wish to find information regarding a veteran whose name may be engraved on the Vietnam Honor Wall, you can do so at: https://www.virtualwall.org/.

– By Betty Lou Gaeng

A long-time resident of South Snohomish County, Betty Lou Gaeng is a genealogist, historian, researcher and writer who is active in volunteer work for Lynnwood’s Heritage Park Partners Advisory Committee and the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association at Heritage Park. She is also a member of the League of Snohomish County Heritage Organizations (LOSCHO) and the South County Historical Society and Museum. Gaeng is the author of two books: “Etched in Stone,” which is the history of the Edmonds Museum memorial monument, and “Chirouse” about a Catholic missionary priest who came from France to Washington Territory in 1847 and became a father figure and friend to the Puget Sound area’s Native people.


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