May I quickly explain my interest in writing a column for the Shelbyville, TN, Times-Gazette about your late father, Charles (Chick) Parsons.
I first read of his many exploits during World War II a few years ago when, after putting down many cups of coffee to stay awake while covering sports and the police beat until the wee hours of the morning, i would read myself to sleep when I finally got home.
At the present time I am writing a book on the late General Austin Shofner of the U.S. Marine Corps. Gen. Shofner, a Shelbyville native and a close friend, was captured when Corregidor fell in early 1942.
He kept a diary starting a few months prior to be transferred from Shanghai to the Philippines shortly before Pearl Harbor, throughout his time as a POW at Bilibid, Cabanatuan and Davao Penal Colony.
In April 1943, Gen. Shofner, who was a captain at the time, was among a group who escaped from Davao. After meeting up with guerrillas he served with Fertig’s group until November, 1943, when he was one one of three of his escape group carried to Australia aboard the submarine Narwhal.
Of course I had already read of your father’s heroic actions involving the Narwhal and other submarines.
I found a few weeks ago in the Shofner diary, dated in November, 1943, that he had met your father while on the Narwhal. He mentioned in the dairy that Chick Parsons had told him he was from Shelbyville, actually the small community of Wheel located about 12 miles west of Shelbyville.
Almost immediately I went online searching for additional information. One of the first items I found was RFM Profiles in which your father is listed as having been born on April, 22, 1902, in Shelbyville.
Many people with the surname Parsons live in the Shelbyville area, but they have been unable to provide any information. Meanwhile, I’ve gathered information from several books in the local library and a few military books I own.
I honestly feel the people of this area should know know such a outstanding person as your late father was born here. I wish to mention not only some of his military actions, but also his outstanding deeds as a businessman and his work in getting baseball recognized as one of the sports of the Olympic Games.
If you could possibly find time to send me information on how long he lived in the Shelbyville area, where he attended elementary and high school, whether he was a merchant seaman or in the U.S. Navy when he first arrived in the Philippines and any other information you feel would be helpful I would certainly appreciate it.
Hopefully, this will lead to a street or one of our parks being named in his honor and memory.