Navy ends search for Kemper County sailor

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Nov. 21, 2001
U.S. Navy officials abandoned their search on Tuesday for a Kemper County man missing since the tanker he boarded to inspect in the northern Persian Gulf sank last weekend.
Petty Officer 1st Class Vincent "Butch" Parker, 38, of Preston, will be memorialized on his ship, the USS Peterson, this week. Family members said they will hold their own local memorial service, possibly on Monday or Tuesday.
The tanker sank Sunday morning, shortly after Parker's crew boarded it. Officials believed the United Arab Emirates-flagged tanker was smuggling Iraqi oil in violation of international sanctions.
Parker's brother, Stephen Parker of Carthage, said he agreed with the decision to call off the search.
Stephen said that Vincent was the youngest of five brothers and a sister. The family's parents, Glenn Parker Jr. and Rena Parker, are currently in Windsor, Va., where Parker's wife, Charlotte, and his two children, Vincent Jr., 14, and Rachael, 12, live.
Stephen said he and his siblings grew up in Macon and moved to the Preston area in 1976. All are avid swimmers and graduated from Nanih Waiya High School. Vincent Parker joined the Navy in 1982, straight out of high school, his brother said.
Vincent, who has been known as "Butch" all his life, was last home at Christmas. Stephen said his aunt dubbed his brother "Butch" because none of the children could say Vincent when his mother brought him home from the hospital.
U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., called Vincent Parker a "homegrown hero who has been lost in the global fight against lawlessness."
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3236, or e-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.

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