Carrolls make Honor Flight

Published 10:03 pm Friday, October 1, 2010

THE IWO JIMA MONUMENT in Washington, D.C., is a fitting background for former Marine Pvt. 1st Class Carroll Harmon of Bainbridge, who took part in the World War II Honor Flight last Saturday.|Tom Harmin

Saturday, Sept. 25, was a full day for Carroll Harmon of Bainbridge.

He and his son, Tom of Macon, went on the World War II Wiregrass Honor Flight that left Dothan Airport at 7 a.m. and flew to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II Monument. They returned late the same night to Dothan, where they were given a warm welcome home from the Camp Rucker Band, military personnel and civilians.

Harmon, who was a Marine in the war, said it was all very exciting. He had been to Washington before, but not since the World War II monument or the Iwo Jima monument had been built. He described the trip as, “Unbelievable. I was moved and sort of proud of it all.”

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Harmon was born in Mitchell County, but has been a Bainbridge resident most of his life. He joined the Marines at age 18, trained at San Diego, Calif., and was stationed in the South Pacific in 1944-45. He was aboard the light aircraft carrier, The Independence, and was at Okinawa and Peleliu, where some of the fiercest battles of the Pacific were fought. The National Museum of Marine Corps called the Battle of Peleliu Island that lasted over two months as “the bitterest battle of the war for the Marines.”

Asked if he saw any action, Harmon replied, “I saw enough.”

His ship was scheduled to go to Japan on Aug. 27, 1945, but was held up by typhoons and didn’t arrive there until Aug. 30. He was at Yokosuka, a city in Kanagawa Japan when the peace treaty between the United States and Japan was signed on Sept. 2, 1945.

As a member of the 4th Marine Regiment, he was part of the occupational forces in Japan. He recalls his duty the first night on land was to guard a huge hangar full of Japanese “Baka” suicide bombers, described as rocket-powered human-guided kamikaze attack planes. U.S. sailors nicknamed the planes “baka,”( Japanese for fool or idiot). Harmon admits that made him a bit nervous.

After the treaty was signed, his unit was about to be broken up in order to send some of the troops to China when the point system for discharge began. He found he had the right points for discharge and was happy to leave.

Harmon said he first heard about the honor flights when T.P. Bryant, Bennie Brookins, Onion Davis, Jack Gray and Frances Lee, all from Bainbridge, went in April. He began talking to his son about it, and Tom told him if he wanted to go he would make all the arrangements and make the trip with him as a guardian.

The Wiregrass Honors flights leaving from Dothan have been organized by Col. Larry Turnage and his wife, Ann, originally from Bainbridge. Both of the Harmons were very complimentary of the Turnages and all those involved with the planning.

The senior Harmon said, “They left nothing to the imagination. It was efficiently planned down to the last detail.”

Veterans get to make the trip free, and the guardians pay their own way.

Son Tom describes the event as very moving and overwhelming.

“What impressed me the most was how people would come up to the veterans who were looking at the monument and shake their hands and thank them for what they had done.”