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Carl Collins, standing, congratulates Ed Harrison, seated, after he received a 50-year pin and a certificate from the American Legion Post 15., while Harrison's daughter Jeanette Kelsoe holds his award. Legion members  honored Harrison at Falkville Health Care Center on Friday.
Daily photo by Emily Saunders
Carl Collins, standing, congratulates Ed Harrison, seated, after he received a 50-year pin and a certificate from the American Legion Post 15., while Harrison's daughter Jeanette Kelsoe holds his award. Legion members honored Harrison at Falkville Health Care Center on Friday.

Friends bring party to ailing veteran

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com 340-2438

FALKVILLE — Ed Harrison is in a select group at American Legion Post 15 in Decatur. He is celebrating 50 years as a member.

So is Doyle Yates. And Morley Denbo, W.F. Frazier, Fredrick Wolff and S.R. Bogle are marking 60 years.

They were among those the post honored Friday night at its annual awards dinner on the Legion's 88th birthday.

But it was a party that Harrison, 87, confined to a wheelchair and living with his wife, Ophelia "Jo," at Falkville Health Care Center, couldn't make.

Friday morning, Harrison's legion of friends came to him.

"We were going to send a van down for him, but doctors didn't think it was a good idea," said Post Commander Willard Tapscott. "But we wanted to make sure he got the same treatment."

Jim Miller, the post's outgoing Veteran of the Year, pulled the party together. The nursing home opened its chapel.

O.J. Hyde said that because of Harrison's years of dedicated service to the honor guard, the party was an easy call.

Hyde, Americanism chairman, said the post launched the honor guard, which leads farewells to departed veterans, during the mid-1980s and that Harrison was one of the first volunteers.

"He would fuss if he didn't get called," Hyde said. "We started out doing two to three funerals a month, and as the years passed, it became two to three a week."

Jo Harrison sat by proudly as Tapscott presented her husband of more than 63 years his 50-year pin and certificate.

"I think he looks pretty good today," she said, "and I'm going to keep him that way."

On an easel behind him rested a frame that included 21 combat medals, including the Bronze Star with an oak leaf cluster and the V (for valor) device.

Harrison, a retired truck
driver, served on active duty from February 1942 to October 1945. He fought in the Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, northern France, Normandy and Central Europe with the Army's 35th Infantry Division.

Harrison said that while the medals mean a lot to him, he doesn't spend time thinking about them.

Many at the party think often of him. Starting in 1965, he gained new friends by the year over a 35-year period working part-time as floor guard at Funland Skate Castle. He retired at 81.

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