50 Years of SWAT: Kenneth Parkerson

Kenneth Parkerson joined the FBI in 1966 as a night clerk in San Diego and became a special agent in 1971, working in Phoenix, Denver, and Miami. The former Navy corpsman was a member of the original FBI SWAT team in 1973. He retired from the Miami Division in 1996.

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I was I was a Navy corpsman and three of the guys, Jim Horn, Jim Huggins, were Marines. And I'd served with the 3rd Marine Division over in Okinawa while I was in the Navy. And the short term in Vietnam. So they walked into the squad room one day and they drop a unit-one bag, which was the field medical bag, on my desk, and said, You're going to SWAT school with us. We won't go without a Navy corpsman. So and the other guy was an Army guy. And he said, yeah, we’ve got to have a medic. And so I said, okay. And that’s the way that I got chosen.

We trained a lot down at Fort Carson. We became specialized in mountain-types activities: rappelling through hills, we did skiing at nighttime. We finally got some decent weapons. We first we had a slide-action gun, rifle, I forgot what they call it now. And an 870 shotgun was our weapons. And the Bureau finally got around to getting us M16s. And we did a lot of training. We went to Fort Riley, Kansas. And went through their sniper school.

And it was it was quite a bit. It was a new program for us. And when we first started, we didn't have any greens or like the guys do now, all that stuff. We did have some old vests, old heavy Army-Marine vests. And it was quite a bit different than the way they do it now.

I'm amazed when I go into the Miami office. The SWAT guys, I see them all the time and they take me down, show me their new equipment and I go, good gosh, you know, we wouldn't know what to do with all this.

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