Friends formed from royalty
Parker and Hathaway were among the veterans who attended Red Sandstone Elementary School’s Veterans Day assembly Tuesday so the schoolchildren could honor them and learn a little about them, too. More than 15 veterans attended the assembly from all branches of the military, some serving in World War II, Vietnam and as recently as Iraq.
Parker and Hathaway were the only two soldiers of another nation, America’s closest ally in Iraq, among the attendees.
School Principal Nancy Ricci asked the young audience where the men were from, and one tiny kindergarten student chirped: “California!”
Actually, Parker is from Bristol and Hathaway is from outside of Portsmouth, England.
They met while training for the British Royal Marines, Parker said. Only 13 out of 45 men who were enrolled passed.
“I met Mick then, and we’ve been friends ever since,” Parker said.
It was 1984 in Cyprus. The two men were commandos with the British Royal Marines.
Hathaway had already served in the Royal Marines for about 12 years before meeting Parker.
And, Hathaway says, they bonded from the beginning.
“I remember it quite clearly,” Hathaway said. “It was in Cyprus. It was a scorching day, and I was drinking a pint of brandy. Then, some of the new guys walked passed us, and one of them was (Parker). I pulled him over and asked him, “Can you drink this pint?’ And he took it, knocked it back, and we’ve been friends ever since.”
Parker threw his head back and laughed. Parker remembers a more serious time. He remembers his travels.
Parker joined the Royal Marines in 1982, serving until 1988. He was one of the oldest men in his unit because his family made sure he received a trade before joining the military. He has a master’s license in plumbing and heating.
“I was a little older than the average kids,” Parker said. “I was more mature and could handle things a bit better. It was tough training, and you had to grin and bear it.”
Commando training for the Royal Marines requires intense work for nine months, Parker said.
“You don’t get any rest,” Parker said. “The six years I was in it, four and a half of it was spent out of the country.”
The duo spent time in Northern Ireland. Parker said he also served in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Africa and South America.
“I was recalled for the first Gulf War,” he said, “but they didn’t need me.”
He spent six months in the jungle in South America, battling against drug smuggling.
“Northern Ireland was a tense situation,” he said. “We were dealing with people from the same country and terrorists. It was quite intense.”
But the situation was far different for Hathaway, he said.
Hathaway spent 16 years in the Marines, “drinking in every major port in the world.” He stayed in the military “because of his mates,” he recalled.
It was a family tradition for Hathaway. He joined in 1972 at the urging of his grandmother. He finished in 1988.
“It went by in a flash,” he said.
Hathaway wouldn’t elaborate on his experiences serving in the military, saying only what happened will stay with him and that “it was such good fun.”
Five years ago, Parker and his wife, Maggie, took a year off work and traveled all over the United States.
“We traveled 30,000 miles,” Parker said, “and decided to settle in Vail.”
Ever since then, Parker had been trying to get his friend Hathaway to make the move to the Vail, too.
“He finally got me out here after trying to get me across here for years,” Hathaway said.
Hathaway has lived in the valley now for only one week.
His plans? To go skiing.
Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.