Marine Corps veteran earned Purple Heart during Vietnam
MASURY — Fifty-five years ago, Larry Hawthorne made a decision that shaped the rest of his life.
In 1965, at age 17, just two months before his 18th birthday, he enlisted in the Marine Corps.
The choice came easy to him, much to the chagrin of his mother.
“I just wanted to,” Hawthorne said. “I thought it out, talked to my mother and told her that’s what I wanted to do. She didn’t want me to go. At that point I didn’t care. I said, ‘I’m going.'”
The choice for joining the Corps was an easy one: He wanted to be a part of “the few and the proud.”
After enlisting, he was sent to Parris Island in South Carolina for basic training for eight weeks, went to various places in the United States and Cuba and was sent to Vietnam almost a year after enlisting.
While in Vietnam, he was stationed near the DMZ when his battalion was tasked with Operation Hickory 0174, a three-day operation May 27-29, 1967.
It was the last day of Operation Hickory when he was shot in his right leg, breaking his femur.
“We got caught in an ambush,” Hawthorne said.
Following the ambush, he was evacuated after about an hour.
From Vietnam, he was taken to Japan and then back to the United States in June 1967 to the then-called Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. He wound up being in the hospital for a little over four months.
Once discharged from the hospital, he bounced around from Montford Point in North Carolina for a year to Treasure Island Naval Station in San Francisco, where he finished his time in the Corps escorting bodies home for funerals.
After being discharged from the Marine Corps on May 29, 1969, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in January 1971. While he saw no combat with the Army, he was stationed in Virginia, Alaska and finally Fort Bragg in North Carolina. In 1975, he was discharged from the Army.
Prior to his enlistment in the Army, Hawthorne married Robin Glancy on March 9, 1968, had two children, Rebecca and Larry II, and following his discharge, moved back to the area.
Hawthorne since has retired from various jobs driving trucks and officially retired from Delphi on Dec. 31, 2006.
He still stays active, however. From the time he got out of the service, he has been a member of the VFW and American Legion in Sharon, Pa., reaching the position of Commander of the VFW 28th District.