A 93-year-old Sherman native was treated to a trip to Washington, D.C. this past weekend as part of the Honor Flight program. R.C. Harmon, a retired tank commander who served in the United States military during World War II, was recently offered an opportunity to receive a trip to the nation's capital to visit the various military memorials in the city.
Harmon didn't go alone.
He brought his son David Harmon along with him as a caregiver. David Harmon said most of the veterans, especially the older ones, were accompanied by younger individuals.
R.C. Harmon said he was honored to get to see the capital and was overwhelmed with emotion seeing all the people who lined up at the airport to solute the veterans on Friday as they prepared to board their flight at Dallas Love Field Airport.
“The way it was handled, you would be totally amazed at the honor we received,” R.C. Harmon said. “WWII veterans are getting kind of rare. Only about a third of us were WWII veterans. It was a outstanding. We went and saw all the monuments in Washington, D.C. Some of the older ones were being worked on, but we saw everything…the WWII monument…the Vietnam monument. If you haven't seen them you might ought to go. They are fabulous.”
In Washington, the veterans were given a tour of the city, saw the changing of the guards, and were allowed to pay their respect to fallen heroes.
The ages of the veterans on the trip spanned from 91-98 years and were representing soldier from WWII, Korea and Vietnam. A total of 41 veterans took the trip, and R.C. Harmon was one of 13 from WWII.
He said his favorite part was the respect and kindness he saw from all the people who showed their support for those on the trip. There were hundreds of people with signs, waving flags, saluting the veterans, he said.
A former tank commander, R.C. Harmon retired following nearly 35 years of service in the military. After his time in the Army, he went into the National Guard. He worked with IBM during his time with the National Guard. He would go to schools to speak to students.
A Sherman-born individual who attended Sherman High School, Harmon played football in 1943 donning jersey number 27. Now his grandson wears the same number on his jersey at SHS. Harmon said he played in the very first football game held at Sherman's Bearcat Stadium, which was built in 1940. He has even been a guest speaker at Battle of the Ax events, talking to football fans before the big game.
On the return flight home, R.C. Harmon was given a stack of letters from people all around the country who wrote to the veterans.
R.C. Harmon recalled stories of the different awards and recognitions he received saying one accomplishment he holds is having never lost a man in combat. He was proud of that.
Drafted right out of high school, R.C. Harmon went to Anna Tank Infantry basic training. From there, he stayed with tank infantry before going to Fort Hood to the tank destroyer section. That section was dissolved and he was transferred to California, taking the first tanks out to Camp Roberts.
Then, he went to Fort Knox where he was an instructor teaching village fighting. He trained combat troops at a Japanese fighting village. At the end of his tour, he was discharged, but wanting to preserve his rank, he joined the National Guard.
Later, while teaching a class, he discovered he was showing a tank that was the very same one that took him to California previously.
He served as first tank commander of the Texas Military Academy. After his retirement he was given the Legion of Merit pin. It was one of the highest honors a soldier could receive below the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Following his retirement, he return to Sherman with his wife. Since then he has lived an active life travelling the country.
At 93, R.C. Harmon said he was doing as well as anyone could at his age, and it was a wonderful experience to be recognized by all those people who respect the veterans and their service.