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The right choice

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ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Vivian Parkinson points to the brick on the Estacada Veterans Memorial honoring her father, a World War II veteran. Parkinson followed in her fathers footsteps and served in the Army.Looking back, Vivian Parkinson is sometimes surprised at her decision to join the U.S. Army.

Describing herself as a “shy girl” with four brothers, the Estacada native didn’t think she was the most obvious military candidate, but several factors led her to join the Army anyhow.

“I always liked the idea of travel, and the adventure of it. That’s what got me started,” she said, adding that her father’s service during World War II was another influence.

On Friday, Nov. 11, Parkinson will be one of several grand marshals in the Estacada Veterans Day parade. Organized by the the Estacada Area Support our Troops Foundation, the parade will begin at 11 a.m. at Estacada High School, 355 N.E. Sixth Ave. From the high school, the parade will go downtown and end at the Estacada Veterans Memorial, where the Support Our Troops Foundation’s Veterans Day ceremony will begin.

Parkinson said it was “quite an honor” to be asked to be a grand marshal.

Parkinson is currently the electronics manager at the Clackamas Fred Meyer store and served in the Army from 1974-77, when she was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas.

“I was a transportation movement specialist, and ensured that trucks and troops got wherever they needed to go,” she said. “I worked out of the first cab division at Fort Hood.”

Parkinson joined the army the year after she graduated from high school, a decision that her family supported.

“No one questioned why I was doing it,” she said, adding that out of all of her brothers, she was the only one who joined the service.

Parkinson quickly found that life in the military was very different from growing up in Estacada.

“It was a different culture, with a lot of different people,” she said. “There wasn’t a lot of diversity at (Estacada High School).”

Parkinson didn’t feel singled out as a woman in the military.

“We pretty much learned the same things in basic,” she said. “We were pretty much equal in everything we did, since we were supply and transport.”

During basic training, Parkinson and her fellow trainees worked from sunup to sundown learning things such as how to shoot and treat gunshot wounds, much of which she still remembers today.

“We went right from one thing to another, and we never sat around with nothing to do,” she said.

During basic training, Parkinson also learned several things about herself, such as how to move past her shyness.

“I grew out of it fast,” she said. “There was quite a team spirit. Everything had to be done in a team. There weren’t a lot a lot of lone rangers. Everyone had to do their part.”

Because she had been able to overcome her shyness, Parkinson became one of the people in charge of the women’s dormitories at Fort Hood. This was challenging for her at times, but she appreciated the leadership opportunity.

Though she was only in the Army for three years, Parkinson said the experience still influences her today.

“It really taught me to be more assertive,” she said. “I think it had a lot to do with me becoming a supervisor (at Fred Meyer). You don’t want someone to tell you what to do, you want the lead position.”

Parkinson’s father is honored on one of the bricks on the Estacada Veterans Memorial, so she’s particularly happy to be a part of the parade this year. She is also proud to represent other women who served in the military.

“I see it as an honor to bring people’s memories to that,” she said. “Even though I was only in (the military) for three years, it’s great to be able to support (military) careers like this.”

Parkinson is glad the country takes Veterans Day to honor those who served.

“It’s about keeping people’s minds on the military,” she said. “Military is a necessity, and freedom is not free.”