Basil Manly Parks II – Captain, United States Army

Courtesy of his classmates, United States Military Academy Class of 1961

Basil Manly Parks II
28 December 1939 – 13 November 1964
Died in Bangkok, Thailand, aged 24 years
Interment: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia
Died: Jeep Accident near Bangkok , died 13 November 1964


Basil Manly Parks II, named for his father’s eldest brother, Colonel Basil Manly Parks, was born at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC, on  28 December 1939. His father, the late Lieutenant General Floyd L. Parks, then a Captain, was attending the War College at Fort McNair. A great, great-grandfather, the Rev. Basil Manly Sr., had served as chaplain and gave the prayer at the inauguration of Jefferson Davis on the steps of the Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama. An uncle, Lyman L. Parks, had graduated from the Military Academy in 1917. Manly had two older brothers, Bill and Floyd Jr., and an older sister, Anne. Many summer vacations were spent at Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, at the cottage of his maternal grandparents. Manly liked to swim and to sail, inheriting a love of the sea from his grandfather, Captain William Applebye-Robinson, USNR.

When his father was stationed in Hawaii, Manly was confirmed a member of the Episcopal Church, and it was also while in Hawaii that he learned to play golf at Fort Shafter, and developed a love for deep-sea fishing. His father’s next station was Fort Myer, Virginia. Manly attended Sunday School there and was an acolyte in the Post Chapel. Chaplain Luther Miller was taking the service one Sunday and had difficulty keeping a straight face when Manly, after making a small miscue, whispered to him, “Sorry I loused that up.” After Fort Myer came his father’s final tour of duty at Fort Meade, Maryland, where Manly earned enough money to but a Model A Ford for  $50 — which he later sold for $100. How he loved that car!

In 1957, Manly graduated from Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC, where he received all of his high school education. Immediately following his graduation, he was awarded a presidential appointment to the United States Military Academy and entered with the Class of 1961. His brother Bill (William R. Parks) was a First Classman while he was a Plebe. Like Bill, Manly was a member of the golf team under Coach Brown. While at West Point, he taught Sunday School, sang in the Glee Club, and even constructed his own hi-fi.

Manly was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers. After completing the Ranger and “jump” courses at Fort Benning, Georgia, he attended the Engineer School at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and there graduated first in his class. His first station was Fort Lewis, Washington. While at Fort Lewis, he took private flying lessons and successfully passed the tests for a pilot’s license. It was here also that he met a very attractive girl who taught him to ski, and who also shared his pleasure in mountain climbing. It was this girl that he hoped to marry upon his return from his Thailand tour. Before leaving Fort Lewis in June 1964, Manly was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, and the 4th Engineer Battalion to which he was assigned presented him with a silver cup in recognition of his outstanding performance of duty. In July 1964, while on leave, Manly went with his mother to visit his brother, Captain William R. Parks, in the Canal Zone. Bill had brought home from Korea a large silver trophy, dubbed “The Parks Trophy,” for which they could challenge each other, at intervals of no less than one month, to a round of golf. Manly had his name on it three times to Bill’s twice.  Bill nosed Manly out this time, which Manly explained by saying he thought the trophy needed polishing, and Bill’s wife, Mary Jane, was so good at that!

Manly returned to the West Coast for his departure to Thailand where he was assigned to the headquarters of the 9th Logistical Command as assistant supply officer with station at Korat. His letters and tapes from there were full of enthusiasm for his work. His untimely death occurred in November when Manly and two other young officers lost their lives in a jeep accident while en route to Bangkok.

He is survived by his mother, two brothers, and his sister, Mrs. Richard C. Strain.

Basil Manly Parks was frank, sincere, and devoted to his family, friends, and country, and to the duties he performed to protect them. When he talked about Army life, it became not just a way of life, but a challenge to live life to the fullest with no thought of compromise to the high ideals of the Golden Rule. The loss of his wonderful spirit, given force by the discipline of the Military Academy and nurtured by his love of humanity, dealt a real blow to the Army. In a letter to Manly’s mother, his battalion commander stated, “I cherish the memory of Manly’s friendship and fine service. ‘Rod’ had great potential. With his passing, the nation, the Army, his family, and his many friends have lost a man of the highest quality and caliber.”

His memory will serve to inspire all who knew him.


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