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2013-11-21

Semper Fi, USMC Maj. Luke Parker

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

United States Marine Corps Maj. Luke Parker, a resident of Onslow County, North Carolina, was killed when his private plane crashed on Sunday, Nov. 17, in North Carolina. He was the son of former Bandera County Courier staff writer, Stephanie Parker McKean.

While in the Marine Corps, Luke served four tours of duty in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan.

His mother deemed the Marine Corps the perfect career for the "boundless energy" of her hyperactive son. Luke began training for a military career even before graduating from high school, running four to six miles a day in every kind of weather.

A true Renaissance man, he easily became proficient on both the trumpet and piano - in spite of being incorrectly diagnosed with learning and developmental issues as a small child. Additionally, Luke was a skilled artist and poet and, despite a professed hatred for writing, he eventually wrote newsletters for his Marine Corps unit. Several of which were published in the Courier
After deciding a college diploma was in order, Luke graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. When he wanted to learn to fly, he not only earned his pilot's license, but also his instrument and instructor's ratings.
Luke's love of flying continued unabated through his military career. When purchasing a plane, he ferreted out one of only 19 surviving Focke-Wulf 149 planes in the world - which he kept in pristine condition. A skilled pilot, he and his Focke-Wulf often performed in air shows.
Luke was flying his beloved single-engine plane when he went down on Sunday, according to his mother. His body was discovered in the plane's wreckage late Monday night, Nov. 18, in Duplin County about two miles from a runway in Kenansville in eastern North Carolina.

A family member apparently reported Luke missing after he took off from North Carolina for Michigan that day and never arrived.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.

In one of his articles written for the Courier while stationed in Iraq, Luke wrote, "Live each day to its fullest - take nothing for granted. Treasure the little things for only when they are gone do we realize how much they actually meant to us. Life is fragile, it passes quickly; love endures."

On her blog, Luke's mother added: "If he could have chosen the way to go - that's what he would have chosen. From the sky into the arms of Jesus."
Parker is survived by his young daughter, Dulcinea; mother, Stephanie Parker McKean; and stepfather Rev. Alan McKean.

The Bandera County Courier staff extends our deepest condolences and sympathy to our former colleague and family for their loss.