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Alumnus Col. Timothy Parker retired from the Marine Corps in June after 34 years of service to our nation. During his career, Parker served two deployments in Iraq, graduated from the Marine Corps War College, and rose to the rank of Colonel. But as a young Christendom student in 1984, his extensive and impressive career in the U.S. military was not what Parker expected for his life.

When Parker came to Christendom in 1984, he was actually discerning the priesthood. His desire to learn the faith and explore a potential vocation is what drew him to the college in the first place. But God had another vocation in mind for him. One of Parker’s classmates, Joan Brennan, would become Parker’s future wife.

“I think if you are truly looking for God’s will, you’ll find it,” remarks Parker, “even if it wasn’t the original path you were following.”

Parker was inspired to join the Marine Corps after his childhood best friend returned from recruit training. According to Parker, his friend exhibited a maturity, strength, and focus that he admired, and he wanted that for himself. Not long after, Parker enlisted in the Marines and began bootcamp in Parris Island, South Carolina.

After completing recruit training in 1985, and being assigned to Weapons Company, 2d Bn, 25th Marines, he attended Officer Candidate School in 1990 whereupon he received his commission. He was promoted to Captain in 1996 and attended Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, Virginia.  From 1998 to 2001, Parker was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where he served as Operations Officer and was promoted to the rank of Major. From 2001 to 2002, he attended the College of Naval Command and Staff in Newport, Rhode Island, and graduated with distinction.

This story originally appeared in Instaurare – the Christendom College magazine. Subscribe today!

Parker was deployed as the Executive Officer of a battalion in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004-2005. After returning home, he was promoted to Lt. Col, where he assumed command of a battalion in 2006 and then deployed to Iraq in early 2007, executing counterinsurgency operations. In May 2011, he graduated from the Marine Corps War College, was promoted to the rank of Colonel—a rank not given to many in the USMC—and then he assumed command of the Marine Detachment in Fort Still, Oklahoma, in 2016 where he mentored and trained Marines one last time.

Parker outside of Camp Fallujah with SgtMaj Michael Giannecchini.

Without a doubt, Parker’s long career with the Marines demanded bravery, commitment, and a spirit of sacrifice. Being in the military also required a strong moral formation.

“The establishment of a solid moral compass was the best preparation Christendom gave me for my service in the Marine Corps,” says Col. Parker. “Military service to our country and leading young men and women in peace and war will constantly challenge your moral decision making. Some decisions are life and death, most are not, but all of them involve someone’s son, daughter, husband, wife, father, or mother, and the positive or negative impact you have on those you are privileged to lead will last a lifetime.”

While Parker leaves the Marines highly decorated and accomplished, his greatest fulfillment has been found in his vocation as a husband and father. Parker and his wife, Joan, have been blessed with 10 children: Katherine, Molly, John, Timothy, Megan, Colleen, Shane, Michael, Kiley, and Kerry. According to Parker, “being at Christendom together helped Joan and me to focus on what marriage truly means very early in our relationship and taught us to welcome children as gifts from God…and God sent us a lot of gifts!”

Col. Tim Parker is a prime example of bravery and patriotism. His life of service as a devoted Marine, and most importantly as a husband and a father, is truly an inspiration.

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