Col. Gets Doused When He Flies Away From Gulfport Avcrad Unit

A military helicopter appeared on Gulfport's horizon. The man flying over the city was Col. Gervis Parkerson.

"I started off in a huey in 1972," he said. "It was appropriate that I took my last flight in a huey."

The 1108th Avcrad commander circled over his hangar one final time before he brought the huey back to earth, and simultaneously ended his nearly 30 year military career.

Parkerson had mixed emotions about retirement. But, he also knew it was time to say goodbye.

Once the helicopter landed at the Air National Guard base, a hose team carried out an Avcrad tradition. Three officers soaked the huey -- and the colonel.

Parkerson had trouble exiting the helicopter. But he seemed to enjoy the moment.

"They'll get you if they think a lot of you," a wet Parkerson said. "So that's just part of it. So I'll just go change clothes and we'll go from here. This is my last day on the job."

At that point, the colonel walked up to applauding members of his unit and thanked them for their kindness. And then, the colonel gave one final order.

"You all go back to work now," he said.

Work for the 1108th involves helicopter maintenance. Many of these reworked blackhawks and apaches could end up in Iraq.

Iraq is Col. Parkerson's worst military memory. Back in 2003, nearly 100 members of his unit deployed to the war zone. But the colonel had to remain in Gulfport.

"It was harder telling them they had to go and me not going with them. That was tough," he remembered.

Those days are now behind Gervis Parkerson. He's leaving his Avcrad hangar, and heading right for the farm. Parkerson knows his unit will be just fine without him.

"They'll carry on. It will be fine," he said.