HALFMOON: Town mourns hometown hero

Donnelly said the chances of Parker walking away from the accident were "exponentially higher" had he been wearing a seatbelt. Police are still investigating the accident and are awaiting toxicology reports from the hospital.

Parker was in full dress uniform at the time of the accident and was returning home from a dinner with soldiers in his unit.

His godfather, Lt. Col. Paul Fanning, also with the 42nd infantry, said that Parker would not have been drinking excessively at the dinner in his dress uniform, and that members of his unit said he was "very sober when he went home."

Parker's father, Mike, met Fanning in 1978 when the two were assigned to the same military unit. After realizing they lived in the same Clifton Park neighborhood, the two became friends.

"I'm extremely proud of my son that he chose a military career," Mike Parker said. "He was absolutely devoted to his job and defending his country in Iraq and helping out the 42nd infantry without any questions."

Fanning called the Parkers an all-American family.

"When I look back at this young guy and watching him go from childhood to manhood, it really was a very special experience," Fanning said. "It was my first opportunity to be a godfather and turned out to be a really great thing for me."

Some of the many awards Parker received from the military include an Army Commendation Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and an Army Achievement Medal, Second Award.

Donnelly, who was at the scene of the accident and had served in the same National Guard unit as Parker, said it was a terrible tragedy.

"It was very hard for me to see the dress uniform pieces all over the road and the uniform pieces cut in a bloody pile," Donnelly said. "It's very difficult to see something like that when you know the injuries are catastrophic. He goes to Iraq and survives all the dangers over there and returns here, and it's just something routine like putting your seatbelt on."

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