White Oak Vet Gets Purple Heart And Diploma - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/11/04-Longview

White Oak Vet Gets Purple Heart And Diploma

A White Oak Korean War veteran got the double honor of receiving a long deserved "Purple Heart" and his high school diploma after 51 years. Soft spoken and always with a broad smile, 70 year old Don Harmon was among many who attended the veterans tribute at White Oak high school, to receive honors for his service during the Korean war.

"I felt it was an honor to serve, I volunteered I wanted to go, I picked the branch I wanted to be in, they're really proud to do what they're doing," said Harmon.

He quit high school as a senior in 1951 to join the Marines, and always regretted that he never got his diploma.

"You feel like you don't really belong 100 percent, you left before something was completed which doesn't sit well with me," he said.

"So Don never graduated from White Oak High School, but he did graduate, he graduated from United States Marine Corps boot camp," said retired Marine Corps Colonel Randall Smith.

He was wounded twice in Korea, but in 51 years never got his purple heart. However, in Thursday's ceremony he was awarded the Gold Star and Purple Heart. What he didn't know is the school and fellow vets had arranged for him to receive his diploma.

"I had no clue that this was going to happen today, no clue" says Harmon.

The long wait over, Harmon sees it in humble terms. "It took the same amount of time to get both-- but the purple heart; I think I paid for it a little more," he says.

Bob Hallmark reporting.

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