Hundreds gathered in St. Marys on April 5 for the funeral of U.S. Marine Corps Retired Sgt. Maj. Todd Parisi. On Aug. 1, he will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, the most hallowed burial ground of the nation’s fallen.
Members of the Vietnam Veterans Association in Dagus Mines, the Sgt. William L. Dixon Detachment Marine Corps League in Clearfield, the local Disabled American Veterans, the local Purple Heart Association and the American Legions and Veterans of Foreign Wars in Clearfield, Elk, and Jefferson counties will sponsor a bus trip to Arlington for the interment of Parisi, who was from St. Marys.
Parisi, 49, who was also a highly esteemed motivational speaker, died on March 29 at his home after a battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
He was also the co-founder of the local youth group, The Spartans. That group would come to grow, within a short time, beyond 300 members, spreading good deeds throughout the area.
“The bus trip is for any veterans who want to go,” said Joe Woods, of Panic, formerly of DuBois.
Woods, a retired Marine and veteran of the Vietnam War, said he and Parisi shared a “common bond.”
“He was a sergeant major in the Marine Corps and I was in the Marine Corps. There is a bond with marines,” Woods said.
Woods said earlier this year he set up a date with Parisi to speak to students in teacher Chuck Pasternak’s class at the DuBois Area High School.
“Chuck and I have worked together on different projects and I asked him if he would like to have a motivational speaker from Elk County speak to his class,” Woods said. “He spoke at the DAHS. When he was done speaking, Chuck came up to me and said he (Parisi) was one of the best motivational speakers they had ever had and the students loved him.”
Woods said he called Parisi to tell him the feedback he received.
“He gave me that typical Marine answer when we don’t want recognition,” Wood said. “He said, ‘I was doing my job.’”
Sgt. Maj. Todd M. Parisi enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in October of 1985 and entered recruit training in September 1986 at 2D Battalion, Company F, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina.
Upon graduation as a Private First Class, he attended the Infantry Training School at Camp Geiger, North Carolina and graduated as the Bravo Company Honor man and was assigned the MOS of 0311 and promoted to Lance Corporal. After completing training as an infantryman, he was assigned to Marine Barracks Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines for Security Force duty where he served from March 1987 until September 1988.
He then transferred to 1st Battalion 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, where he served as a Scout/Scout-Sniper. He remained there until September 1991.
During his assignment with 1st Battalion 7th Marines, Sergeant Major Parisi served as a Scout-Sniper team leader during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm with Task Force Ripper. He was selected the 1995 Rookie of the Year, Recruiter of the Year in 1996, and was the Centurion Award recipient in 1997. He also served in support of Iraqi Freedom. In 2011, he assumed duties as the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, deploying forward as the senior enlisted advisor for the theater response force in support of real world contingencies.
Parisi’s personal awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (with gold star in lieu of second award), Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal (with three gold stars in lieu of fourth award), Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal (with gold star in lieu of second award), the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon and he was also the recipient of the Major General Clayton B. Vogel Award for leadership excellence in the 2nd Marine Division.
Those taking the bus trip will leave DuBois VFW Post 813 parking lot at 3 a.m. on Aug. 1. The funeral service begins at 11 a.m. in the Arlington Cemetery chapel and then proceeds to the gravesite. The bus will return to DuBois between 9-10 p.m. Aug. 1.
The cost is $20 per veteran and includes two meals. Payment is due in advance. For more information or to make reservations, call Woods at 814-590-4445.