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Monday, October 26, 2020

World War II Veteran from Texas Completes His Mission to Finish the Marine Corps Marathon

On Sunday, October 25 starting at 7:00 a.m. in Fredericksburg, Texas, T. Fred Harvey, a World War II veteran who fought at Iwo Jima, became the oldest U.S. Marine to complete the annual Marine Corps Marathon. Harvey raced in a customized chair developed by Ainsley’s Angels and was guided by marathoners, Glenn Paige, M.D. a USNA Blue & Gold officer and ambassador for the Navy SEAL Foundation; Mike Lawrence, master gunnery sergeant for the U.S. Marine Corps; and Chris Haley, a member of Team Gratitude, a Frogman Swim team founded by Paige to raise annual funds for the Navy SEAL Foundation. Harvey and his team completed the 26.2-mile race, which began and ended at the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas, taking 05:20:08 to the finish line.

Photo Credit: The Museum of the Pacific War/Carlos Javier Sanchez

Originally scheduled for October 25 in Arlington, Virginia, the Marine Corps Marathon was staged virtually in compliance with COVID-19 restrictions. Now in its 45th year, the event, dubbed “The People’s Marathon,” annually unites more than 30,000 participants from all 50 states and more than 50 countries. Keeping with the marathon’s original schedule, Harvey and his team competed, just days before Harvey turns age 97. This year, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of World War II’s official end on September 2, 1945, the MCM medals include actual volcanic ash from the Iwo Jima island. Michael William Hagee is a retired United States Marine Corps general who served as the 33rd Commandant of the Marine Corps from 2003 to 2006, and President and CEO of the National Museum of the Pacific War, and placed Harvey’s medal on him at the finish line.

Photo Credit: The Museum of the Pacific War/Carlos Javier Sanchez

Just before 7 A.M., a crowd assembled to hear remarks from Paige and Hager about the courageous and inspirational veteran.  Paige recited a poem, “The Man In The Glass,” by Peter Dale Wimbrow Sr., in 1934.  The National Anthem was sung by United States Navy (Ret) Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Powell. General Hager provided commentary on Harvey’s contributions to the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg. Crowds grew with every 5.8 mile loop the team made around the museum. The local VFW set up a large viewing area along the route and many local residents came out to cheer the team everywhere. Bryan Degner, Education Associate and Outreach Coordinator for the museum and a veteran himself, brought out his authentic WWII Jeep to track the team. Harvey says of the race, “I’m amazed that they all came down here to see old Fred Harvey!” Before the race he said, “I haven’t competed in a marathon before, but I’ve never been afraid of a challenge. And I’m lucky to have good friends who are expert runners. Without their help and my racing chariot, this would never be possible. I’ve traveled the world and accomplished more than I ever imagined, but it will be one of my greatest honors to cross the finish line as a proud U.S. Marine.” Tears and cheers abound as Fred walked the final steps across the finish line in front of the museum, accomplishing his mission once again.

Photo Credit: The Museum of the Pacific War/Carlos Javier Sanchez

Photo Credit: The Museum of the Pacific War/Carlos Javier Sanchez

A Texas native born in Memphis, Texas on October 29, 1923, Thiele Fred Harvey joined the 5th U.S. Marine Division in 1942 as a paramarine and demolitions expert serving throughout the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. On February 19, 1945, he landed on Red Beach in Iwo Jima. Nine nights later during a three-man mission, he was wounded by the last two of three grenades launched into his shell hole, severely damaging his hips, legs and arms with shrapnel. After emergency treatment, Harvey was placed on the USS Ozark Naval ship and transported to Hawaii where he underwent numerous surgeries and a four-and-a half-month recovery. For his valor, Harvey received the Silver Star Medal for saving the life of fellow marines. 

After medical discharge, Harvey earned his undergraduate degree from Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Oklahoma and a Master of History degree from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. For the next 45 years, Harvey taught history and physical education at various Texas and Colorado high schools and coached football, baseball and track. During the 1980s, he worked for the Department of Defense and coached track, football and baseball in Turkey, Japan, Korea and Italy. He later coached football at Christian Military School in Mississippi and is now retired in Dallas, Texas. Harvey’s published memoir, Hell Yes, I’d Do It Again, recounts his life from the Great Depression through his service as a World War II marine, an educator, and a coach. Until recently, he served as a volunteer at the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, prompting the team to select the museum for its race location. To find Harvey’s book on Amazon click this link! We make a small profit from links like this and proceeds from our links are donated to charity! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! 


Paige, a former anesthesiologist who lives in Hickory, North Carolina, first met Harvey in 2016 during a chance meeting with a surgeon who played football for Harvey in high school. “That day, we were celebrating my birthday, and my wife Michelle brought a cake bearing the Iwo Jima emblem. Having just spoken to Fred, I said, ‘I can’t cut this cake with a U.S. Marine from Iwo Jima standing here.’ So, Fred cut the cake, and we’ve been friends ever since.” Inspired by his father who served in the Navy, Paige competes in marathons and triathlons nationwide to benefit the Navy SEAL Foundation and its fallen heroes. “Helping Fred make this journey and make history, is such a privilege. Our World War II vets are national treasures, and we need to thank, honor and celebrate them every single day.”

A GoFundMe account has been established to raise $5,000 for Harvey’s custom racing chair at A non-profit organization founded by former U.S. Marine Major Kim (“Rooster”) and Lori Rossiter, Ainsley’s Angels ( is named for the Rossiter’s daughter, Ainsley, who was diagnosed with infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy (INAD) shortly before her fourth birthday. To allow her to participate in family jogs, the Rossiter’s developed the special chair for road races. In February 2016, Ainsley lost her battle with INAD, and the Rossitersformed Ainsley’s Angels to help other children and adults participate in running and racing.

Photo Credit: The Museum of the Pacific War/Carlos Javier Sanchez

The chair Harvey used is an Adaptivestar Axiom Racer push chair, designed for safety of both runners and disabled athlete riders in distance races. After the race, the chair will be donated in Harvey’s honor for wounded U.S. Marines and special needs families participating in the Marine Corps Marathon. All funds exceeding the cost of the chair will be donated to the National Museum of the Pacific War and The Admiral Nimitz Foundation 501(c)(3) charity.

To learn more about T. Fred Harvey, visit Veterans Chronicles radio show and podcast, hosted by Greg Corombos of Radio America, or for a more personal account of Harvey’s experiences during the war. For more detail on the National Museum of the Pacific War, visit, featuring Dr. Paige’s interview with Harvey and the museum’s director of marketing and public relations, Brandon Vinyard. For additional coverage of the event visit: and—-marine-veteran-of-iwo-jima-recalls-his-life-in-the-corps-as-he-finishes-one-more-race/ar-BB1aoxdD

1 comment:

  1. What an inspiration. As the daughter of a Navy corspman from WWIi and the wife of a Air Force retires chief I was moved by his story. I'm going to share his story on my social media pages. Thank you for telling it.