Dedication of Korean, Vietnam
and Desert Storm Memorial
After a 'Sick-Out' on the Panama Canal, General Parfitt Gets the Ships Moving Again
BY PEOPLE STAFF
APRIL 5, 1976
A year ago President Ford chose Maj. Gen. Harold R. Parfitt, a veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, to be governor of the Panama Canal Zone...Parfittxs life as governor (at a salary of $37,800) is a far cry from his hard-scrabble beginnings in Coaldale, Pa., where his father was a miner.
A year ago President Ford chose Maj. Gen. Harold R. Parfitt, a veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, to be governor of the Panama Canal Zone. By comparison, observes the trim, 54-year-old West Point graduate, the wars were a piece of cake. Traditionally awarded to a senior officer in the Army Corps of Engineers, the dual assignment as Canal Zone governor and president of the Panama Canal Co. was once regarded as among the plushest the armed services offered. No more. For the past two years the U.S. and Panama have been wrangling over a new treaty to replace the outmoded pact of 1903, which bisected Panama and gave the U.S. perpetual control over the 10-by-51-mile Canal Zone. Since treaty negotiations began, the zone has been the scene of Panamanian nationalist agitation, low morale among the canal's approximately 3,700 American employees, charges of discrimination in housing and schools, and growing financial distress. "This is probably the most challenging assignment I've ever had," says the understating Parfitt.