James Edmund Parker was born at Anniston, Alabama, on August 9, 1896. He was graduated from the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, and commissioned a second lieutenant of Field Artillery on November 1, 1918.
Following graduation, he remained at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, for duty. In July 1919 he went on a tour of observation of the battlefields of Belgium, France and Italy, and later joined the American Forces in Germany as an observer. He returned to the United States in October 1919 to enter the Field Artillery School at Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky.
He was detailed to the Air Service on July 1, 1920, and was graduated from the Field Artillery School that same month. He then entered the Air Service Pilots School at Carlstrom Field, Florida, and was graduated in March 1921, then going to Post Field, Oklahoma, to enter the Air Service Observation School. Following graduation in 1921 he remained at that post for flying duty.
In March 1922 he was assigned to the 318th Pursuit Group, Organized Reserves, at Indianapolis, Indiana. He became Air Service Officer for the 84th Division, Organized Reserves, there in July 1922. He transferred from Field Artillery to the Air Service on August 31, 1922. In August 1923 he became Executive Officer of the Air Units of the 84th Division, Organized Reserves. From October 1923 to January 1926 he was Adjutant for the 309th Observation Squadron, Organized Reserves at Indianapolis.
He then went to France Field, Panama Canal Zone, for duty with the 7th Observation Squadron. He transferred to the 24th Pursuit Squadron there in March 1927. In August 1928 he was commended by General Malin Craig for a flight from France Field to Washington, D.C. Upon his return to the United States in November 1928 he became Assistant Chief of the Planes and Engines Maintenance Unit at Wright Field, Ohio, and in July 1930 became Assistant Chief of the Operations Office there.
In August 1932 he entered the Air Corps Engineering School at Wright Field. Following graduation in July 1933 he went to Selfridge Field, Michigan, to command the 57th Service Squadron. From February 1934 to May 1934 he was an Air Mail Pilot at Columbus, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Newark, New Jersey, and then returned to Selfridge Field for duty with the 57th Service Squadron.
He transferred to Rockwell Field, California, in January 1935 for special training in advanced air navigation and instrument flying, and the following month returned to Selfridge Field to command the 27th Pursuit Squadron. He entered the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, Alabama, in August 1935. He was graduated in June 1936, and then became an instructor at the school, becoming Chief of the Pursuit Section there in September 1938. In July 1940 he went on duty in the Maintenance Branch of the Field Service Section at Wright Field, Ohio. He became Engineering Officer at the Mobile Air Depot at Brookley Feld, Alabama, in July 1941.
In September 1942 he was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, III Bomber Command, as coordinating officer, MacDill Field, Florida. He assumed command of Headquarters III Bomber Command, November 4, 1942, and on July 14, 1944, became Commanding General, Fourth Air Force, San Francisco, California.
On May 22, 1945, he was assigned to the United States Army Air Forces, Pacific Ocean Areas (USAFPOA), as Deputy Commanding General for Administration, and upon reorganization was named Deputy Commanding General for Supply and Maintenance. On August 10, 1945, he was designated Commanding General, Headquarters, United States Army Strategic Air Forces, Middle Pacific Area. On October 15, 1945, he became Commanding General, Twentieth Air Force, Harmon Field, Guam.
General Parker was killed in the crash of a B-17 in northern Formosa (Taiwan) on March 19, 1946.
He was rated a Command Pilot and Combat Observer.
Cadet, U.S. Military Academy, June 14, 1917; Second Lieutenant, Field Artillery, November 1, 1918; First Lieutenant, November 3, 1919; detailed to Air Service on July 1, 1920; transferred to Air Service on August 31, 1922; discharged as First Lieutenant and appointed Second Lieutenant, December 15, 1922; First Lieutenant, August 19, 1923; Major (temporary), April 20, 1935, to July 31, 1935; Captain, August 1, 1935; Major (temporary), August 5, 1938; Major, July 1, 1940; Lieutenant Colonel (temporary), July 15, 1941; Lieutenant Colonel, A.U.S., September 15, 1941; Colonel, A.U.S., February 1, 1942; Colonel, A.U.S. (Air Corps), March 1, 1942; Brigadier General, A.U.S., December 4, 1942; Lieutenant Colonel, December 11, 1942; Major General, A.U.S., November 9, 1944.
Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, World War I Victory Medal, Army of Occupation of Germany Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Distinguished Gunner’s Badge (awarded in 1927)