14 Jul Last African-American Veteran of D-Day Laid to Rest
The last surviving African-American combat Veteran of D-Day, Henry Parham, died on July 4 in Pittsburgh at the age of 99 from bladder cancer.
On D-Day, he served as a private in the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion. He even appeared in a video interview in 2013 conducted by the American Legion Magazine.
In the interview, he described his role as an Army balloon crewman and explained the nature of his work.
Parham also served as a district deputy and post commander. He volunteered in VA-run hospitals and organized several parades on Memorial Day.
His funeral service included all military honors performed by the guards of American League Post 980. He was buried in the Allegheny Cemetery at the Allegheny County Soldier’s Plot. His funeral services were conducted at Rose Funeral Home.
Jeff Pope, a friend of late Parham, said he has the softest voice and a heartening laugh. He said, “He was a man’s man. He walked tall among men. It’ll be a long time before we see one like him again.”
Pope, Parham and Parham,s 45-year-old wife-Ethel Parham, all met through American Legion and have been friends for more than three decades.
After Parham’s death, Ethel contacted Pope personally to help her arrange funeral services. At Mr. Parham’s funeral service, his 35-year long friend, Pope, honored his courage, services and sacrifice by handing Ms. Parham the final rounds that were fired from the honor guard’s firing squad.
Ethel accepted the rounds and the US Flag. She then placed a flower over her husband’s casket as a final goodbye.
In an interview, Ethel said, “He lived a good life. He was well taken care of, and we traveled and had a beautiful life. I thank God that he lived long enough to get these accolades. He deserved it.”
Parham’s great-great-nephew, Rev. Michael Parker II, led the prayers at his funeral.