107 year old Harold Nelson, possibly the oldest WWII veteran living in Colorado, was finally awarded the Silver Star for gallantry after decades of fighting to receive it.
Surrounded by friends and family of Fort Carson, the Denver resident had his medal pinned on by the Commanding general of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division Major General Charles D. Costanza.
SSG Harold Nelson climbed on an abandoned tank to suppress enemy fire in Italy and helped liberate Anzio in 1944. Watch at 11 a.m. MT today as we award him the Silver Star Medal at a ceremony on Fort Carson @4thInfDiv for his gallantry in combat: https://t.co/uxu40nlZbv pic.twitter.com/PpMj0L2bpC
— 3rd Infantry Division (@3rd_Infantry) October 4, 2022
Costanza said, “I’m honored and honestly humbled to have the privilege to present the Silver Star to a fellow Dogface Soldier. Starting his time in combat during WWII, First Sgt. Nelson was shot three times, survived artillery bombardments, grenade explosions, German tank fire and exploding landmines.”
Nelson learned of his recommendation to receive the Silver Star in a letter sent to his mother by his commanding officer in May of 1944. Nelson’s daughter Carolee Soden said of the letter, “He just kind of put it away, because for a long time after he got back from the war he didn’t want to talk about any part of it. Even as children, we never heard any of his war stories.”
Generations later, Nelson finally decided to share his stories, including the one about his Silver Star.
In 1973, a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis destroyed millions of military records dating back to 1912.
Soden said, “Every so often dad would say, ‘What do you think about my Silver Star?’ I talked to him one day, and said, ‘You know your family knows that you should have this, and that’s the important part. You don’t have to have the Star.’ He said, ‘Well, I’d really like to have the Star.'”
Years after abandoning hope of ever receiving his Silver Star, Nelson called his daughter with good news. Soden said:
“Daddy called me one day (in June) and said, ‘Well, I guess the Army finally decided to give me my Silver Star. I have been trying for many, many years to find a way to get this for him, and with the help of many others. I am having trouble realizing it is really happening.”