First African American Hired Combined Support Maintenance Shop

Staff Sergeant (SSG) John Parker:

SSG Parker began his military career in November 1962. He was drafted into the military and spent two years on Active Duty. After being stationed in California for two years, SSG Parker returned home to fulfill a six-year obligation with the U.S. Army Reserves, but instead joined the Arkansas Army National Guard in 1964.

SSG Parker was the 3rd African American to join the Arkansas Army National Guard. During his enlistment, he became a member of the 148th Evacuation Hospital at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock. SSG Parker was assigned as a cook and four years later, he was promoted and became the dining facility Sergeant. He stayed in that capacity for 18 years.

SSG Parker was the first African American to be hired at the Combined Support Maintenance Shop (CSMS) in May 1972 as a Mechanic. He was the first African American to get promoted to the grade of WG-12 and the first to be hired in the Quality Assurance Section.

When asked what things he would change as a supervisor, SSG Parker responded by saying his objectives would be: helping people that he manages, providing better working conditions and better relationships between employees and management, and creating new ways to train his employees.