Korean War veteran recalls meeting President Kennedy
When 1st Lt. Glenn Hardin of Andrews retired in 1963 after nearly 10 years of service in the U.S. Air Force, he was honored alongside other Korean War veterans by President John F. Kennedy.
The recollection of shaking the president’s hand at Castle Air Force Base in Sacramento, Calif., is a memory he still remembers vividly at 83 years old.
“I was thinking, ‘Thank you Lord,’ because I’d never dreamed an old boy off of Beaver Creek would ever see the president,” Hardin said.
Hardin, who is a Korean War and peacetime era veteran, served in the Air Force from May 10, 1954, to Dec. 2, 1963. A substantial portion of his time in the military was spent in the Republic of South Korea and islands in the Pacific Ocean where atomic weapons were tested.
Hardin spent six months as support of Joint Task Force Eight for project “Blue Straw.” He said this project consisted of testing hydrogen bombs on Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean.
“That was a secret at the time,” he said. “It was way out in the ocean, and we weren’t supposed to say anything about it. From there on, we went right into the big war.”
During his six months on Christmas Island, Hardin became exposed to atomic radiation. As a result, he later was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome.
Hardin said he made the decision to join the military at a young age. When his father left, his mother worked tirelessly to support the family.
Hardin remembers his mother walking miles to work in every weather condition imaginable.
“Rain, sleet, snow, it didn’t matter,” he said. “I said, ‘God help me grow up fast so I can go to town, get a job and help my mother.’ ”
After Hardin was old enough, he joined the military because he knew if anything happened to him, his mother would still be well taken care of.
When he left the Air Force with an honorable discharge in 1963, he returned to Beaver Creek to look after his mother. Hardin said he remained by her side until the day she passed away.
Today, he still lives in Andrews, never forgetting the sacrifices his comrades made overseas. Although he has received many honors, Hardin said he doesn’t care to share his accomplishments because “a lot of men did more than I did.”
“I don’t like to talk about the war because I lost too many friends,” he said. “I try to look up night and day, and thank God I’m here.”