By Denis Morgan
Lieutenant General James Parker was born in Mitchelstown, County Cork, on 15 April 1929. He entered the Cadet School, the Military College in May 1948 and was commissioned in the rank of Second Lieutenant to the Infantry Corps in May 1950.
His served in the General Training Depot until 1952, when he transferred to the Southern Command. He served with the 4th Infantry Battalion and as Assistant Command Adjutant until posted to the Military College in October 1959, on his promotion to Captain.
He served as an instructor in the Cadet School, Infantry School and the Command and Staff School. He completed a Company Commander’s course in Warminster, UK in 1959 and a Staff course at Camberley, UK in 1963 and received his Bachelor of Arts from University College Dublin in 1973.
In 1975, he served as a Staff Officer in Operations Section, Chief of Staff’s Branch, at Defence Forces Headquarters. Appointed Officer Commanding 3rd Infantry Battalion in March 1979, he was to Lieutenant Colonel in 1980.
He returned to the Curragh Command in 1980 as Officer in Charge of Operations Section. He was promoted to Acting Colonel in 1982 and appointed as Director of Reserve Forces, before becoming Officer Commanding 2nd Brigade in 1983.
He was Executive Officer of both the Western and Curragh Commands 1985-7, before being promoted to Brigadier General in 1988 and Major General in March 1989, when he was appointed Adjutant General of the Defence Forces. He was promoted to Lieutenant General and appointed Chief of Staff on 16 October 1989.
He first served overseas as Platoon Commander, Intelligence Platoon and Assistant Intelligence Officer of the 35th Infantry Battalion (ONUC) in the Congo in 1961, was Operations Officer of the 9th Infantry Group (UNFICYP) in Cyprus 1967-8, Officer Commanding the 26th Infantry Group (UNEF) in the Middle East in 1974 and served as a Military Observer (UNTSO) 1977-9, also in the Middle East.
He served at Headquarters UNIFIL in the Lebanon as Staff Officer Special Projects in 1984-5 and completed two tours of duty as Chief Military Observer with the United Nations Military Observer Group India and Pakistan (UNMOPGIP) 1987-9. He retired on 15 April 1992 and resides in County Kildare.