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Last surviving Navy doctor on Omaha Beach dies

Oct. 3, 2012 - 03:25PM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 3, 2012 - 03:25PM  |  
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GREENSBORO, Ga. The last surviving Navy doctor who landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy during the D-Day invasion of World War II has died, according to a funeral director and a researcher.

Dr. Joseph Lee Parker Jr., of Greensboro, Ga., died Sept. 27 at St. Mary's Good Samaritan Hospital in Greensboro. He was 95.

Kenneth Davey, who has done extensive research of military records associated with the Allied invasion, said the Waycross, Ga., native was the last surviving Navy physician who served on Omaha Beach.

Davey said Parker was a member of the 6th Naval Beach Battalion. Parker's obituary from McCommons Funeral Home says he treated the wounded, including Allied and German troops, for 21 days on the beach.

Services were held Sunday in Greensboro, about 70 miles east of Atlanta.

Parker was awarded the French Legion of Honor medal in 2011, according to the 6th Naval Beach Battalion website. Parker and 16 other veterans were honored for their service during the war.

According to a 1999 interview with a historian that was posted on the website, Parker attended the University of Georgia. He went on to medical school in Augusta, and went in the service as an intern at the University Hospital in Augusta.

In 1943, Parker was assigned for temporary duty at Parris Island, S.C., then to Camp Bradford to the 6th Amphibious Forces, and later to the 6th Beach Battalion.

Parker said there was no training or orientation into the Navy when he joined. He said duties initially involved mundane tasks such as checking swimming pools for the chlorine content and looking for safety problems there.

"The main thing we did down in Parris Island was looking at the blisters on the GI's feet that were marching on those hot paved parade grounds," Parker said in the interview.

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