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Local World War II Veteran Receives Military Honors After 60 Years


Yarmuth delivers overdue medals at ceremony for family and friends

(Louisville, KY) When Kenneth A. “Jake” Harshfield was honorably discharged from the Navy following his service in World War II, the haste and confusion that came with returning men and women to their homes and families prevented him from receiving the decorations he had earned in service to America.  But 63 years later, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) has presented Mr. Harshfield, now 82, with his rightful honors.

“No one who has served and sacrificed for American freedom the way Mr. Harshfield has should be deprived of the accolades they earned,” Congressman Yarmuth said.  “He is an American hero of the greatest generation, and I am glad to be able to honor him for all he is given our country.”

“We live in the greatest country on Earth.  I’m proud to have served America, and I’m proud that all these years later, my country still appreciates what we did,” Harshfield said.

At a ceremony attended by family and friends at Okolona AMVETS Post 61, Yarmuth presented Harshfield with the WWII Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific campaign Medal, 2 Bronze Stars, Navy Occupation Service Medal, the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, and the Combat Action Ribbon.

In October of last year, Yarmuth restored the honors of another World War II Navy veteran, Floyd "Woody" Roth, and Mr. Harshfield’s family took notice.

“We realized Jake was in the same boat, so we contacted Congressman Yarmuth’s office,” said Jim Woods, Harshfield’s cousin.  “This means the world to him to be honored in this way, and we’re all so thankful to Mr. Yarmuth for honoring him in this way.

At the age of 16, Mr. Harshfield left Valley High in Jefferson County to join the Navy, where he remained until 1946, serving on the USS Tennessee.  The ship saw action in numerous Pacific Theater operations, including the battles of Iwo Jima, and in April of 1945, enduring a kamikaze attack.

Following his honorable discharge, Mr. Harshfield returned to the Madora/Kosmosdale area and worked at Kosmos Portland Cement Company until his retirement in 1981.  He has been married to Margaret Loretta Gentry since 1947.