Henry Adams Parkhurst

1938 - 2014

Vietnam War

Their Story

Henry Adams “Hank” Parkhurst was born July 18, 1938 in Rutland, Vermont, to Mary Isabel Robinson Parkhurst and Reverend John Queen Parkhurst.[1] Reverend Parkhurst was the pastor at St. Paul’s Universalist Church in Rutland.[2] By the 1950 US Census, Henry and his family, including a brother, Clifford, were living in Oak Park, Illinois, where Henry’s dad was serving as a minister in a local church.[3] His paternal grandmother was also residing with them.

Henry attended Joliet Township High School. He was a junior in 1955.[4] He was on the tennis team and was referred to in the school yearbook as an “ace racquetman.”[5] It was his third year of high school tennis. He was a leader on the team in 1954 and 1955.[6] He also played varsity football in 1956, the year he graduated.[7]

Henry enlisted in the Army November 16, 1956, as a commissioned officer. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant June of 1958, First Lieutenant in August 1959, and to Captain in October of 1962.[8] He became a Green Beret and Airborne Ranger.

Green Berets (or Special Forces) are trained for unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, direct action, counterinsurgency, special reconnaissance, counterterrorism, information operations, counterproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and security force assistance. The primary mission of the Army Special Forces is to train and lead unconventional warfare forces, or a clandestine guerrilla force in an occupied nation.[9] A ranger regiment is an elite airborne light infantry combat unit within the United States Army Special Operations Command.

Henry served with the 20th Special Ranger Battalion for 13 months in South Vietnam, with 9 months as an advisor to a Vietnamese ranger battalion. He returned to the States in 1964 and was assigned as staff training officer for the 1st Brigade of the 4th Division at Ft. Lewis, near Tacoma, Washington.[10] As a guest speaker for the Young Men’s Business Club in Tacoma, the young Captain Parkhurst spoke about how the war in Vietnam was going. He said, “When you look down into a foxhole and see another soldier crumpled dead, you wonder what in hell you’re doing here.”[11] He told the group that the war was primarily guerilla in nature and difficult at best. He added that serving as an advisor in Vietnam was hard work but always interesting. He then told a story about how they had just set an ambush at a road junction when, “We heard some movement on the road and opened up with machine guns. We bagged three tigers.”

There were several tiger attacks on American troops during the Vietnam war and other reports of being stalked by them.[12]  The population of tigers in Vietnam has declined significantly since then, according to the global census of tigers in 2016, with less than five in Vietnam. A 2014 International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN Red List) report indicated that tigers were possibly extinct in Vietnam.[13]

Henry Adams Hank Parkhurst Gravesite

While in Vietnam, he and his men sponsored an orphanage with the help of American organizations at home.[14]

Henry and Priscilla Ann Pullara were married in 1964. They had four children. He was promoted to captain in July 1967 and to major in January 1968.[15]  Henry was wounded in action on April 12, 1968, while serving in Vietnam. He was a major with the Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade.[16]

In 1979, the family moved to the Quad Cities when Henry was assigned to the Rock Island Arsenal. He retired around that time and then worked another 23 years at Merrill Lynch. In 1988, he was honored as a top financial consultant.[17]  He was a stockbroker there in 1997.[18] He and his wife were involved in the Quad Cities community. Priscilla was a founding member of River Action and Hank was a volunteer. He had been a member of the Moline Rotary in 1986.[19] He and Priscilla were major donors to the Centennial Bridge lighting project in 1988. Hank was a golfer and got a hole-in-one in 1998 at the Rock Island Arsenal Golf Course No. 13.[20]  They lived in a beautiful river townhouse in Hampton, Illinois, that was decorated with art and furnishings from their travels around the world; including Ethiopia, Germany, Bolivia, and Korea.

Henry died July 1, 2014, at the age of 75 after an extended illness.[21] He and Priscilla had been married for almost fifty years.


[1] Vermont, U.S., Birth Records, 1909-2008 – Ancestry.com

[2] 28 Aug 1937, 7 – Rutland Daily Herald at Newspapers.com

[3] 1950 United States Federal Census – Ancestry.com

[4] U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-2016 – Ancestry.com

[5] U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-2016 – Ancestry.com

[6] U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-2016 – Ancestry.com

[7] U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-2016 – Ancestry.com

[8] U.S., Select Military Registers, 1862-1985 – Ancestry.com

[9] United States Army Special Forces – Wikipedia

[10] YMBC Will Hear of Vietnam WarThe News Tribune Tacoma, WA – Newspapers.com

[11] 16 Jul 1964, 48 – The News Tribune at Newspapers.com

[12] Tiger Attacks During Vietnam War: Hidden Predators in the Bushes : Wildlife X Team

[13] Indochinese tiger – Wikipedia

[14] 20 Aug 1964, 16 – The News Tribune at Newspapers.com

[15] U.S., Select Military Registers, 1862-1985 – Ancestry.com

[16] National Purple Heart Hall of Honor (thepurpleheart.com)

[17] Merrill Lynch honors top consultants Quad-City Times – Newspapers.com

[18] 29 Jun 1997, 39 – Quad-City Times at Newspapers.com

[19] 22 Jun 1986, 30 – Quad-City Times at Newspapers.com

[20] 05 Dec 1998, 40 – Quad-City Times at Newspapers.com

[21] Henry Adams Parkhurst (1938-2014) – Find a Grave Memorial