107-year-old Colorado World War II veteran receives Silver Star at Fort Carson
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Roughly 80 years after his service in World War II, Sgt. 1st Class Harold Nelson received the Army’s second-highest honor, the Silver Star, at Fort Carson on Tuesday. Nelson is a 107-year-old Colorado World War II veteran who also earned two Purple Hearts for his valor in combat.
Serving in World War II with F Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Nelson was part of Operation Torch in Morocco, an Allied mission intended to draw Axis forces away from the Eastern Front in northern Europe. Nelson also participated in Operation Husky in Sicily, and operations Avalanche and Shingle in Italy following the invasion of Northern Africa. During his time in combat, Nelson was part of six different amphibious invasions and at one point served in 635 consecutive days of nonstop combat. Now, Nelson serves as the golden standard for those who serve.
“I’ve served five tours in Iraq, but I never saw combat like he saw,” says 3rd Infantry Division Commander Charles Costanza. “I mean, 635 straight days of nonstop combat, my service can’t compare to what he’s done.”
Costanza also cites one of Nelson’s several displays of valor when reminiscing on the type of soldier he was.
“He was standing up on this abandoned German tank, firing that turret machine gun and a German soldier came behind him and threw a grenade, right behind him,” Costanza recalls. “And it blew the backpack literally off of his back. And he wasn’t rooted and he just kept on like it was a mosquito, he just kept firing on that house where the Germans were at.”
Talking to Nelson about his service, he never boasted about his combat accomplishments, but about the interactions he had with his men in the field.
“I got a helmet full of milk for them one time from a cow in Italy,” Nelson joyfully recalled. “Nobody knew how to milk the cow but me, so I milked a couple helmets full of milk and gave it to my men. That was the best drink they ever had, beyond beer.”
Nelson has several accomplishments and awards to boast about, but instead, he humbly diverts all recognition to those around him.
“All my men, they were really good,” says Nelson. “They were good to me and they were good combat men too. I appreciate them.”
Nelson’s two Purple Hearts were earned by an instance he was hit with shrapnel in battle, as well as a case where he was grazed in the stomach by gunfire. In both instances, Nelson chose to fight on, staying on the battlefield and choosing to put his fellow soldiers before himself.
“I guess the good Lord was looking after me,” Nelson states. “I made six amphibious invasions under enemy fire and there’s nobody that’s lived that long, I don’t believe. They didn’t get to kill me.”
Now, at 107 years old, Nelson serves as an inspiration for soldiers alike, representing the United States Army with a Silver Star and a golden spirit.
Nelson’s full interview is below:
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