On August 12, 1967, Tyrone R. Parler celebrated his 23rd birthday aboard the Gen. Nelson M. Walker troop ship sailing his way towards Vietnam and the war. As he lay on his bunk bed, he scrawled a quick note on the canvas which read “Little Ty from 1-2 Poplar St. TenderLions, North Philly, slept here on his way to the war. Will be back Aug. 1968. See you at the Blue Sal!”

Parler passed away some 33 years later in 2001 without knowing that his message had been preserved by people who were looking for him. It wasn’t until December 2014 that the Virginia military historian searching for “Little Ty” discovered that he had died many years before. By that time, much of Parler’s story had already been pieced together.

Art Beltrone, the military historian in question, found Parler’s canvas bed amongst hundreds of others in an old troop ship in the 1990s. For many years Beltrone tried to find the soldier responsible for the message, but he was never able to match the writing with the writer. For over ten years Beltrone searched for “Little Ty” and even enlisted the help of a Philadelphia detective with little luck. In late 2014 Beltrone and his team found documents from the Vietnam era which listed the last name’s of the soldiers on the ships. Just as they had discovered the identity of Little Ty, they discovered he had passed years earlier.

Parler’s family and former co-workers helped piece together how he spent the years following the Vietnam war.

According to those who knew him best, Parler never talked about his time in Vietnam. In fact, he never claimed his veteran status on his drivers license. In 1971 Parler got a job with the Philadelphia Recreation Department as a laborer. In 1977 he was promoted to Recreation Leader and put in charge of scheduling basketball games, drama productions, and more. Other vets who worked with Parler said they never spoke to him about their time spent in service.

Little Ty used his GI Bill benefits to buy his family a home in Philadelphia and, in 1997, he sold his share of the house to his mother for $1. He retired in 1999 after spending nearly three decades with the Recreation Department. Two years later Parler died after battling years of alcohol abuse.

Parler was cremated at the West Laurel Hill Cemetery and was survived by his mother and his son. He never married after returning from the war.

Many who came home from Vietnam spent the rest of their time trying to forget the horrors they saw or avoiding the issue altogether. It’s unfortunate, then, when someone who served the United States of America isn’t given a fitting farewell. Parler’s family was there for him at the end, but there are others who are either alone at the end of their lives or are not aware of the kind of services available to them.

The John P. Donohue Funeral Home and Cremation Services offer our fighting men and women the most fitting funeral and cremation services available. Their compassionate and helpful staff will help you organize a perfect and affordable service for your beloved veteran. Whether you’re looking for a memorial service filled with flash and pomp or a more dignified, quiet, and contemplative experience, the professional staff at John P. Donohue Funeral Home are here to assist you. Call today for help planning your veteran’s cremation: (610) 991-8842.