Harlan Plummer awarded the 2017 George H. Seal Memorial Trophy –
By Patricia Beech –
Harlan F. Plummer of Peebles has done more than most to honor and serve local disabled veterans, as the numerous plaques of appreciation hanging on his dining room wall will attest.
“There are more in boxes,” Plummer says, shrugging off the testimonials that recognize the many hours he has volunteered and the thousands of veterans he has helped.
“Harlan is a national treasure”, says veteran and former county commissioner Paul Worley. “He has served in three wars and continued to serve his community when he came home – he has touched the lives of so many people, and made such an impact on people’s lives. If you know him, you’re a better person because of it.”
Plummer’s work has not gone unnoticed.
This past July he was presented the prestigious 2017 George H. Seal Memorial Trophy at the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) 96th National Convention in New Orleans.
“At 97-years old, Harlan has overcome health and family obstacles to always return and give back, and he couldn’t be more deserving of this great award,” said former DAV National Commander David W. Riley. “With 32 years of volunteer service to veterans, he has demonstrated why volunteerism is the cornerstone of DAV’s mission, and he has shown an unmatched commitment to the men and women who served.”
A 27-year veteran of the Army Air Corps and U.S. Air Force, Plummer served his country during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War as an active combatant and later as a covert operator behind enemy lines. He also served on board spy planes photographing enemy movements during the Cuban Missile Crisis and he later tested aircraft ejection seats and participated in sub-zero environmental experiments at Wright State University to determine how and whether pilots could survive after crashing in harsh climates.
“I enjoyed the service,” he says. “It was a great experience.”
A life-member of the DAV Chapter 71 in West Union, he has volunteered through the Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service Program for 32 years.
Volunteering in various capacities, he has contributed over 10,500 hours to his fellow veterans at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Chillicothe, including serving as a driver to ensure that local veterans have the ability to access the health care they’ve earned through their service.
“Harlan has stepped up and answered the call to service,” said Riley. “He goes above and beyond to honor the promises made to the men and women who have served and sacrificed for our freedom.”
Leafing through a DAV magazine, Plummer points out an article about Commander Riley, a multiple amputee who lost all four limbs and some of his organs after contracting a rare bacterium while on active duty at the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama.
“That’s what keeps me going,” he says. “These guys that really need help.”
Plummer says he intends to keep on helping as long as he is able, and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down any, despite his advancing age.
Eternally young at heart, he says “I’ll never grow up,” and one can’t help but wish that it were so.