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Thankful to serve

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Local Marine to come home for Thanksgiving

By Geoff Hamill

 

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When we sit down with our families at Thanksgiving and think of things for which we should be thankful, we should not forget people like Zack Parrish.

Parrish, 21, a 2008 graduate of Washington County High School, has been serving in the United States Marine Corps for two and a half years. During his service, he has spent some time away from home and away from his family while fighting for his country. Last year, Parrish and his fellow Marines were deployed to Afghanistan just days before Christmas, and that left him away from his wife, Heather, and their young daughter, Lily Jo, who was just a few months old at the time. “We were deployed on Dec. 21,” Parrish recalled during a telephone interview last week. “It’s really hard to be gone. That’s the hard thing about my job. I had to miss Lily’s first Christmas, and all the first things, pretty much.” This year, Parrish will not have to miss the holidays with his family, and he is looking forward to getting back to his East Texas home in Washington County, where he was supposed to arrive Wednesday. His plans were to stay in town with family and friends before returning to duty on Nov. 28. Even though he missed some key moments with his family, Parrish is not bitter, and is proud to serve his country, although he just thinks of it as doing his job. “Honestly, I just think of it as part of doing my job,” he said. “I feel like everybody should have to do a little bit. It’s just nice to know that everybody still recognizes that we’re there. I love where I’m from, I love my country and the people in it, and I’ll do anything it takes to protect it. But when I do my job, that’s all it is to me, just doing my job.” Parrish, the son of Jeffrey Parrish of Bardstown, and the late Lori Jo Parrish, comes from a long line of people who have served in the military. His father served in the United States Navy, and he said other members such as his grandfathers, served in the United States Army. As for his decision to join the armed forces, Parrish said he was always interested in the military. “I was always big into the military and patriotism, and I figured if I was going to join, I would join the best branch if anything,” he said with pride in the Marine Corps. “Being in the infantry in the Marine Corps is a hard job, but somebody’s gotta do it, and being in the Corps helps you progress in life. I can get any job I want (after service) just because I have that Marine Corps background.” As much as he enjoys his service, Parrish said he will also enjoy the time at home with his family this holiday season. He said he was raised by his grandparents, Gary and Jane Milburn of East Texas, and he can’t wait to get home to see every member of his family. “I just think the world of getting to be home with my family. Nothing makes me happier than getting to spend time with my folks. I don’t get to do that very often, and I’m one of the more thankful people in the world for getting to come home,” he said. Although he will be home for the holidays this year, Parrish knows he will likely be away during this time next year because his unit is scheduled to be deployed again in August 2011. “The next time will be my second deployment. You know, it’s really hard being away for that long and not being able to keep in touch,” he said. “As a grunt, an infantry man, you’re further out than everybody else, and you don’t get to use the phones that much. It takes forever to get mail through, and there’s just not as much contact with your loved ones.” He may be away from home next year, and he will definitely miss his family while he’s gone, but for now, Parrish will just sit back and enjoy his time at home with family and friends in Washington County. And he will be thankful that he can do it.