Thiele “Fred” Harvey was a private in the Marine Corps during the battle of Iwo Jima. He came home from World War II with a Silver Star for valor.
“When his three-man patrol which was sent out to establish contact with the adjoining company was ambushed by heavy fire from an enemy machine gun and one of the men was seriously wounded, Private First Class Harvey dragged the fallen Marine under heavy fire to the shelter of a nearby hole,” his citation says. “Remaining with the wounded man while his companion went for aid, he held off the hostile forces with his rifle and hand grenades until the arrival of the rescue party. Then, exposing himself to enemy fire and directing accurate heavy fire on the Japanese position, he successfully covered the evacuation of the casualty.”
Seventy-five years after that battle, it’s as a Marine that Harvey may set a record running a marathon.
The 96-year-old World War II veteran is on track to become the oldest to ever finish the Marine Corps Marathon.
According to FOX News, Harvey will be accompanied by Dr. Glenn Paige, Chris Haley and Master Gunnery Sgt. Michael Lawrence. The team will motivate Harvey along the 26.2-mile run.
“We’re gonna run 26.2 miles and, hopefully, make him the oldest Marine to cross the finish line in his custom, commemorative wheelchair that will be used in the future by disabled veterans for Marine Corps Marathons,” Paige said.
This year the marathon will be held virtually, to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Harvey won’t be in the thick of it, but he will have his loyal teammates surrounding him as they race from Fredericksburg, Texas, to the National Museum of the Pacific War.
“I would have loved to have finished with him at the Iwo Jima Memorial, but the next best thing is his favorite museum here in Fredericksburg,” Paige said.
Specials medals have been made to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima. Each individual who finishes the race will receive one. The medals contain black sand from the island and the iconic images of Marines raising the U.S. flag in victory.
It’s for those Harvey served with and never saw again that the nonagenarian is dedicating this run to. He intends to share their stories when he gets to the museum.
“I can talk about the war, and I am going to talk about it as much as I can, because I want the people to remember those buddies of mine that paid with their lives for the life that we have here in the U.S. today,” Harvey said.
Learn more about Harvey’s service in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.