Family tradition: Father, son serve combined 80 years in USAF

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Pearison
  • 181st Intelligence Wing

In 1959, Dwight D. Eisenhower was President of the United States of America; Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states. The price of a gallon of gasoline was $0.25. That same year, Lesley (Les) Parr enlisted in the United States Air Force.

Parr became an aircraft mechanic assigned to K. I. Sawyer in Michigan. After fulfilling his active duty commitment, Parr joined the Indiana Air National Guard's 181st Tactical Fighter Group in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1963.

As a member of the 181st, Parr moved up through the enlisted ranks, achieving the rank of chief master sergeant. In 1994, he was selected to be the senior enlisted advisor for the state of Indiana. Parr held this position until his retirement in 1999 with more than 40 years of military service. In many cases, this would be the end of the story, but not here. In fact, this moment is where the story gets started.

In 1981, Parr's oldest son, Terry, joined the 181st as an aircraft weapons specialist. The father and son duo served side-by-side in the Indiana ANG for more than 18 years -- nearly the length of an entire military career.

Terry Parr worked as an aircraft weapons specialist at the 181st for 27 years before transitioning to the 181st's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission as the 181st Intelligence Wing. At that time, Parr retrained to become a geospatial intelligence analyst.

On April 25, 2022, Terry Parr will retire from the United States Air Force with more than 40 years of service.

Combined, Les and Terry Parr have nearly 81 years of combined service, 63 years of consecutive service in the United States Air Force, and 59 years of consecutive service in the Indiana ANG.

The duo's time together in the military was an opportunity to form a special bond.

"It’s kind of hard to express," said Les Par. "It’s a father-and-son type of thing."

Through their time together in the military, the Parrs were able to support the same missions and travel across the country and globe.

Terry Parr's retirement marks the end of an era for the Parr family and the Indiana ANG.

"This will be the first time in our household where no one is wearing a uniform," said Terry Parr.

It will also be the first time in decades that the Indiana ANG will be without a Parr in uniform.

Still, the longstanding ties of National Guard units to their local communities afford family members the opportunity to serve together as they write legacies for the military history books.