Preparations continue at Texas A&M for a remembrance of former Corps of Cadets' commandant Tom Parsons, who died in Houston earlier this week at the age of 80.
The Army colonel spent more than half a decade heading up the oldest tradition at the university, but his name will likely always be attached to a special unit of the Corps.
Gabe Terrell handles history every day as commander of the Parsons Mounted Cavalry, rain or shine.
"We're the only school in the country that has a mounted ROTC unit," Terrell said. "No other school in the world, we believe, has what we have here today."
The name that comes with the cav carries special meaning, the commandant who revived history by bringing back that cavalry.
Bob Byrns runs things out at Fiddler's Green, and served in the Corps when Parsons brought the cav back in the 1970s, this after it was disbanded around WWII.
"He was tough, demanded performance, but he was also friendly and helpful," Byrns said. "No one ever had a bad thing to say about him, just an outstanding person."
Each year, new faces experience what Bob did years ago. Two years ago, we featured Nick Gonzales as part of our From the Corps series, one of the few dozen who made up Parsons in recent years. It was a typical dry day at Fiddler's Green, practice making as close to perfect as possible for the many events the cav makes appearances at, representing the Corps and the university.
"We might not be the oldest special unit or tradition at A&M, but we are a part of the Corps, which is the oldest, and we are here to reflect the traditions of the pre-WWII era when the cavalry was still active here at A&M with 500 horses and 1,000 riders," Gonzales said. "I don't know if we'll ever get that big, but maybe one day."
Now, as this set of PMC members move on without a face that visited often, they do so ready to carry on that name's legacy.
"He was very well respected, and we're really sad to see him go," Terrell said of Parsons. "We are going to uphold his name to very high standards."
One week from Thursday, Col. Parsons will be remembered with a memorial service at 3 p.m. at the Sanders Corps Center.
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