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Interview of Henry C. Harden by William Buckner

March 26, 2013


Portrait Feature Article Transcript

Serving one’s country is quite an honor. People either accept the responsibility or they do all they can to avoid it. Henry Harden, Jr. not only accepted the responsibility, he excelled as a leader in the field of battle. He led an artillery unit in Korea that successfully held crucial positions despite repeated enemy attacks. To orient his men to the mechanisms of then newly issued recoilless rifle, he drew schematic diagrams that helped them better understand how the weapon worked and how they should use it. Even when conditions were tough, Mr. Harden held firm; in the interview, he remembers times when the weather was so cold that he had trouble reloading his rifle, his hands numb and nearly frozen. Mr. Harden, despite the hardships he faced, chose to focus on the positive moments.

In the interview, he says that he and his men were fortunate to usually have at least one hot meal a day. He tells the story of the one time they were given ice cream—it melted into the mashed potatoes. According to Mr. Harden, it was the most delicious thing he had while on the front lines. Mr. Harden describes the amazing experiences he had in combat: his volunteering to go on raid and seeing his friend die, his walking through a mine field to take up positions on Hill 290 or, as he referred to it, T-Bone Hill. His story reveals not only the true grit required to survive in these situations, but also the poise and positive attitude that leaders need to inspire their troops to carry on.

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