Squadron leader John Parker will receive an OAM for his service to veterans and their families.
Squadron leader John Parker will receive an OAM for his service to veterans and their families. Blainey Woodham

Air force veteran surprised by OAM

THERE simply isn't enough room on a page to list the achievements of squadron leader John Norris Parker.

The air force "flyboy" could easily be portrayed in a romantic light as a fighter pilot.

But he would be the first to tell you there's little romance in the area of war.

And losing every one of your best friends in your early twenties is something he will never get out of his system.

"It was very sad," he recalls.

"I was the only one in my team who survived."

Coming under anti aircraft fire at the height of the Korean War was one of the stealers of life.

It's amazing that he survived to tell the tales, having flown 170 combat missions over Korea with the 77 Squadron, a specifically Australian squadron.

"We lost 41 pilots," Mr Parker said.

He was to face similar danger when he was sent to Vietnam as part of a conversion unit to gain grass roots knowledge on the nature of the combat.

As a trainer of pilots, he gained the Air Force Cross at this time while equipping them for battle in Vietnam.

"My life has been both challenging and interesting," he muses.

Yet he managed to fit in a marriage to his wife Betty and the raising of two children.

And he is surprised by his being awarded the OAM.

"It's very humbling and very much appreciated," he said.

Mr Parker was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal by Queen Elizabeth II.

"She shook my hand and I didn't want to wash it for ages," he chuckled.

Legacy, the Queensland Branch of the Returned Services League of Australia, the Australian War Memorial, the Veteran's Affairs Board and the Australian Air Crew Association are a few more of the organisations to benefit from his expertise.