For World War II Iwo Jima Marine and Silver Star recipient Thiele Fred Harvey, 97, crossing the finish line during the Marine Corps Marathon in October brought him full circle in a long list of accomplishments that began with his enlistment in the Marine Corps some 78 years ago.
Being pushed in a custom-made “racing chariot,” as he called it, during the virtual race in Fredericksburg, Texas, on Oct. 25, Harvey got up and took to his walker for the last few steps of the 26 miles.
“They rolled me around all over this part of the country and I got to meet a lot of people along the way that wanted pictures, of course,” Harvey said. “We obliged them.”
Before joining the service at 19 years old in January 1943, Harvey worked part time as a roughneck on the oilfields of Texas, contending with unwieldy oil pipes that sputtered the crude all over to earn money to support his mother and sisters.
Harvey served with grit and pride, surviving three beach invasions of America’s island-hopping campaign during the Pacific War, when he saved a fellow Marine from deadly Japanese machine-gun fire ― for which he earned the Silver Star ― and was later seriously injured by two grenades in a three-grenade sneak attack on Iwo Jima before leaving the Marine Corps in November 1945 as a private first class.