Taken from the Jeffersonian Democrat, Brookville, Pennsylvania
Retired Air Force Colonel James C. Harding of Huntingdon was recently honored in his hometown of Brookville, Pennsylvania by Brookville High School from which he graduated in 1952.
He spent time at the high school where he made three different speeches: one each to the junior and senior classes along with a short address to the Raiders football team.
Before the football game, Harding served as the honorary captain and attended special ceremonies before the coin toss at mid field.
Harding, 86, is the 25th most decorated soldier in the United States in military history, according to the military website veterantributes.org.
He is a member of the recently announced Brookville Area High School Hall of Fame Class of 2020.
After a short documentary, a History Channel production available on youtube.com – on one of Harding’s dozens of rescue operations in Vietnam.
His primary message to the students in both speeches – Find something you love to do for a living and you’ll never feel like it’s work. And live with integrity.
“Earning money is not the ultimate of what the job is for. Yes, it’s great to have money to do what you want to do, but it’s so important that you enjoy what you do because you’re going to do a better job of it,” Harding told the seniors.
After his combat days were over, he spent time in the Air Force’s ROTC program as a teacher.
“When you go looking for something to do with your life, remember that one of the most important things that you have to live by is your integrity,” he said. “You have to have a word that someone trusts you to keep. When I taught high school in ROTC, 14 years in countries all over the world, we made our cadets live by the slogan that they would not lie, cheat or stela or tolerate those who do. That’s something you can take with you and life with the rest of your life.”
Harding told the students he thought it would be wonderful if we had a nation where our leaders would live by that same rule.
“They wouldn’t lie to you. They wouldn’t cheat and they wouldn’t steal. They wouldn’t lie to you.,” he said. “But sadly, that’s not the case. You should be accountable for your actions. If you do something, you should take the blame for it if it goes wrong. You’re going to get the credit if it goes right. You should be able to do both.”
Harding said over 800 missions were flown to rescue one person.
He concluded his speech by saying, “Throughout life, you’re going to make a lot of friends. You may make a few enemies. I wouldn’t worry about enemies,” he said. “But remember the friends and keep that in mind. Always remember that time is so important you know you only have so much time in your lives. You have to make use of that time.”