Sgt. Jason Harkins, from Cleveland, to be honored for heroism
An Army sergeant from Cleveland killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007 will be inducted posthumously into the Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame.
Jason R. Harkins is among 15 honorees comprising the 2019 Hall of Fame class, recently released by retired Col. Paul Longgrear, GMVHOF founder and director. Along with having a Georgia connection, inductees must qualify through valor for heroic action in combat, outstanding achievement during service, or significant contributions at the local, state or national level after active duty, according to retired Col. Rick White, Hall of Fame co-director and chairman of the board.
A local veterans organization put Harkins’ name forth for consideration.
“The Northeast Georgia Veterans Society nominated Jason Harkins for the Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame due to his selfless sacrifice of his life for the safety and freedom of all American citizens,” said NGVS President Ron Webb of Sautee Nacoochee.
Harkins is credited with saving fellow squad members during an ambush outside Baqubah, Iraq, an account recalled in the Hall of Fame announcement.
Several soldiers were wounded by a barrage of enemy fire from multiple directions while securing a route through a build-up area to an overnight watch positions. Once reinforcements made the enemy break contact, Harkins – despite his own head wound – organized a medical evacuation extraction that safely transported each casualty. He was later awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart for his heroism.
Harkins and members of his unit were killed in a roadside bomb explosion two months later in the same Middle East theater.
“Jason’s valor in a close combat situation saved his fellow platoon members from enemy small arms fire and possible death or injury,” Webb said. “His bravery earned him a Silver Star medal and the eternal respect and admiration of all veterans. Jason Harkins’ sacrifice and service to his country will always be honored and remembered.”
Honorees will be inducted at the 7th Annual Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame ceremony and banquet planned for 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at the St. Luke Ministry Center (301 11th St.) in Columbus. The event is open to the public, with reservation details available at www.GMVHOF.org.
Photos of the inductees also will hang on the Heroes Wall of the Floyd Building in the State Capitol complex in Atlanta, said Longgrear.
Bob Harkins, Jason’s father, thanked the NGVS for seeking the recognition for his son.
“It’s an honor for his family to be there and accept the award,” he said.