“This Veterans Day, I encourage all to take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices that our service members bear for all Americans and for the principles of democracy. Our heroes continue to serve in a variety of ways that benefit our communities. I salute all veterans as well as current servicemen and women, including my son Julius, who is serving in the Navy. I express my sincerest thanks to them and their families for their dedication and commitment, and for their continued service to protecting our freedom wherever they are deployed.  

The Florida Keys and the College have indeed benefitted from the contributions of many veterans over the years. Each one deserves special recognition. Today, I salute one veteran in the CFK family: U.S. Naval Aviator John Parce, who is a member of the CFK Foundation’s Board of Directors and the founder of a scholarship for nursing students. 

Parce, whose father was a navy pilot, was destined for a military career. He grew up surrounded by strong military role models and molded by experiences brought by living in various locations across the country. Parce earned a Navy ROTC Scholarship to attend Marquette University, and immediately after graduating in 1974, he enlisted in the Navy and started flight training. In his 20 years of service, he was a naval aviator, intelligence officer and military diplomat. Parce also served as the Assistant Naval Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. 

Parce flew in jet squadrons, piloting the EA3 Skywarrior over all the oceans of the world. In 1981, he was recognized as the Number Two Carrier Pilot in the Atlantic Fleet, which was comprised of about 500 pilots.  

During his assignments to foreign lands, Parce opted to live within the cities and towns instead of on the U.S. military bases or the aircraft carriers. He lived in Spain and in various parts of Asia, where he immersed himself in the cultures and communities. The perspective gained enriched his personal experience and aided him professionally in his work as a military diplomat.  

Parce was first introduced to Key West when he was stationed at NAS- Key West in 1984. Upon retiring from the Navy as a Commander in 1994, he chose to move back to the island. He spent the following four years restoring a Conch House he had purchased while on assignment. The refurbished historic home paved the way for a second career helping people buy and sell houses in the Old Town neighborhood. Parce has been a full-time Realtor since 2001. 

Since moving to the Keys, Parce followed the growth of the College and was particularly interested in the nursing program. He even highlighted CFK’s nursing program in an article aimed at prospective home buyers—pointing out the quality of program as an educational option and as a positive influence on healthcare services in the Keys. Parce took his interest in the College to the next level in 2020 by establishing a scholarship for nursing students. Earlier this year, he joined the CFK Foundation’s Board of Directors, where he is able to further expand his impact on and support of the College. 

It is with great honor that on this Veterans Day 2022, The College of the Florida Keys and I salute Navy Commander John Parce. He exemplifies the vast talent, grit, and selflessness of the U.S. military. Thank you for your continuous service to our country, state, and community. May such achievements, sacrifice, and generosity serve as an inspiration for all.”