James “Mule” Parker

19?? – 2018

James Earle Parker Jr. was one of the CIA’s longest serving covert operations officers serving for 34 years. He also served three years in the U.S. Army as an infantry platoon leader in Vietnam, where he was wounded and received the Purple Heart with ‘V’ device.

Jim enlisted in the U.S. Army and became one of the first infantry platoon leaders sent to Vietnam in 1965. As fate would have it, years later, as a CIA officer he was the very last American official to leave Vietnam, barely escaping from the Delta by boat two days after Saigon fell.

In 1970, he was recruited into the CIA in their Special Operations Group. He was assigned in Thailand serving in a headquarters supporting the “secret” war in Laos. While there, he and his wife adopted two Thai children from a local orphanage. As a family they moved to many postings around the world until his retirement in 1992.

He was recalled to active CIA service in 2001, with his first day of work watching the events of 9/11 unfold in front of him in CIA Headquarters in Langley, Va. For the next 11 years, he served with Army Special Forces and Navy Seal teams in the field, finally retiring for a second time in 2012.