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November 11, 2012

Two years in a foxhole

NORMAN — Two years.

That was the actual time Frank Harmon spent in constant combat during World War II.

After enlisting in the U. S. Army in November 1942, Frank fought as an infantryman in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Germany and Austria. He was a member of the 1st Infantry Division in Africa, and the 3rd Infantry Division for the remainder of the war.

Frank was recognized as an outstanding soldier. He was wounded twice and received two Purple Hearts.

Frank was born Feb. 24, 1921, in Norman to James Edward and Melvina Harmon. He was one of 10 children, living on East Alameda Street, which was then Highway 9. He attended Adair School, then at 48th Street and Robinson Street, and Norman Junior High and High School. He graduated in 1941 and went to Los Angeles to find work. While there, he was drafted and returned to Norman so that he would be inducted from Oklahoma. Frank was inducted at Fort Sill and had basic training at Camp Walters, near Mineral Wells, Texas. After 15 weeks of training, he headed east to New Jersey to prepare to be deployed. He was put on a barge called the Sterling Castle and landed in Oran, North Africa. There he joined the 1st Infantry Division, which fought in Africa from January to early May 1943. It was in many brutal battles in Africa, including the Battle of the Kasserine Pass, as the division helped to secure Tunisia. Frank had many unique experiences in Africa, one of which was encountering native nomads on horseback in the desert. Frank described how the horsemen were not trusted by the American forces, who many times chased the riders off with gunfire. He said that they were particularly wary of riders of white horses, who were considered spies and immediately drew fire from the front line infantry.

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