Marathon #14: Running to Remember SSgt Robert “Hoss” Parkhill

For my 14th marathon and the fifth this year (so far), I’ll be running the Bay of Fundy Marathon on June 25, 2017. This marathon is a little different from other races I have run to date in so many ways. First, it is a cross-border marathon, which means that I’ll be running from the starting point in Lubec, Maine, across the border to Canada and back. Apparently, there is a special lane for runners with a race bib to jaunt across, and the border agents will cheer us on as we tackle the hills around the Bay of Fundy. (We will have been pre-cleared at the expo, so no cross border shenanigans will have taken place.)

Lashell, one of my partners in crime for this Bay of Fundy race-cation.

This race is also a girls weekend, with my two running friends, Lashell and Sharon, joining in the fun. We have been planning a race-cation for almost a year at this point, and we’re very excited to be heading to a new location and enjoying 13.1 and 26.2 miles in what looks to be a very beautiful area. The only difference is that my partners for the weekend elected to run the 13.1 distance; I not-so-wisely chose 26.2 on a course that has something like 2400 ft of elevation change. Clearly, I wasn’t looking at the elevation map when I chose this race. But I’m still very excited to be able to run this race, the final of the spring season. One that I plan to enjoy and take time to find the joy in having run five marathons in five very different places in the world – Bermuda, Chattanooga, Paris, Ogden and Lubec/Campobello Island – so far in 2017.

I’ll also be running to remember SSgt Robert ‘Hoss’ Parkhill, a Canadian who was adopted by an American family (although on the west coast). He is one of the 22 Too Many heroes who took his life after waging an internal battle against PTSD. He was selected for me for this race, thinking that the cross border aspect was a perfect reflection of his life. I’m very honoured this race will give him a chance to visit both countries he called home.


But what really is going to be a memorable aspect of this race is that both my friends have agreed to also carry Hoss with them during their races. All three of us have the chance to share his story, his life and the sobering fact about our veterans needing help after their military service is complete. We will all proudly run with his photo, and we all hope that this tribute to Hoss will be a comfort to his family who loves and misses him every day.

Please help me remember him on June 25th, as we run in his memory.

SSgt Robert “Hoss” Parkhill, USMC

04/17/76 – 01/25/15

Staff Sergeant Robert M. Parkhill was born April 17, 1976, in Williams Lake, BC Canada, native of the Chilcotin tribe. At a young age, he was adopted to James Parkhill and Irene Heppler and grew up in Spokane, WA. In 1994, he graduated from Cheney High School; it was at that time he wanted to become a Marine.

On October 25, 1994, he enlisted into the Marine Corps. Upon recruit training in San Diego, SSgt Parkhill attended Bulk Fuel Specialist Course in Virginia. He was assigned to MWSS271, Cherry Point, NC; he held the billet of Line Safety NCO; throughout the next several years he worked his way through the USMC ranks. In February 2003, he was deployed to Iraq. In December of 2004, he received orders to the 8th Engineer Support Battalion, Camp Lejeune, NC as a Platoon Sergeant; he held the billets as Platoon Commander, Company Gunnery Sergeant, Watch officer and Fuel Farm SNCOIC. In September 2005, he was sent to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF); February 2007, sent to OIF IV; and in April 2009, he was sent to Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Upon his return from Afghanistan, he received orders to the 9th Engineer Support Battalion, Camp Lejeune, NC where he retired after 20 years of dedicated service. He received numerous personal awards during his career including the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal and Combat Action Ribbon.

Staff Sergeant Rob “Hoss” Parkhill, died of complications related to PTSD on January 25, 2015, in Chewelah, Washington. He is survived by wife Valerie, children Chelsey and Robert Parkhill, stepsons Chris, Patrick, Tyler and Kyle; mother Irene Heppler and sister, Onna Andrews. He was proceeded in death by father James Parkhill and younger brother Abraham Parkhill.

Rob enjoyed mixed martial arts, outdoor activities including camping, hunting and fishing. His hobbies included watching his favorite NFL team Seattle Seahawks and favorite TV shows: Family Guy, Ax Men and Life Below Zero, as well as relaxing and spending time with family and friends. He enjoyed driving his white Nissan Titan 4×4 where he loved to rev the engine. He adored the Chewelah Peak located in Colville National Forest where he shot his first deer at a young age. He loved being a dad to his children, always willing to teach them new things. He was known to his fellow Marines as “Hoss” and was a mentor to his fellow Marine brothers and sisters. He is remembered for his sense of humor, always telling jokes, and he had a unique laugh and beautiful smile.

Grew up in Spokane, WA; stationed and Camp Lejeune, NC and Camp Hansen Okinawa, Japan
Final Rest: Marshall Cemetery, Cheney, Washington

2 thoughts on “Marathon #14: Running to Remember SSgt Robert “Hoss” Parkhill

  1. Pingback: Race Recap: Bay of Fundy International Marathon | Robyn Runs the World

  2. SSGT Parkhill was my husband best friend, they served in the USMC together. Hoss and our family shared many good memories together, he’s was like my brother. Thank you for running in his memory.


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