Flight Delays Hamper Aviation Hero’s Arrival

May 5, 2019

AVOCA — A hero of American aviation with Luzerne County roots was stymied Saturday by a problem even novice air travelers have experienced: the flight delay.

Lt. Col. James H. Harvey III was originally scheduled to arrive at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport at 6:27 p.m.

But delays pushed the arrival time of American Airlines flight 5280 beyond 10 p.m.

“We want to be here when he gets here. It’s not going to be the fanfare we originally anticipated, but we’re going to do our best to welcome him,” said Katie Larsen-Lick, the event’s coordinator with Mountain Top on the Move, which helped organize Harvey’s visit.

Harvey grew up in Luzerne County in the 1930s and 1940s. He was senior class president and valedictorian of the Fairview High School, Class of 1942.

Then he went to war.

He was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Corps. Racism and “Jim Crow” laws meant black service members were assigned to segregated units and often given menial tasks. According to tuskegeeairmen.org, black pilots were unheard of until civil rights organizations and the black media pressed for an aviation unit, which became known as the Tuskegee Airmen after the city in Alabama where the group was based. That was the squadron Harvey joined.

Harvey graduated from flight school just as World War II was ending, but continued his military career. After the military was integrated in 1948, he served as a fighter pilot in the Korean War. He would go on to earn the Distinguished Flying Cross as well as other honors.

When Mountain Top on the Move organizers learned of his history and local connection, the group invited him back to the area.

He is scheduled to visit the Forty Fort airport to meet the son and grandchildren of a man whose bomber he helped escort in Korea, to speak to Crestwood students and to visit a local American Legion for a dinner with veterans.

One of Harvey’s requests to the organization was the chance to speak to young students in the place where he grew up.

“Knowing his history, it meant a lot to us,” Larsen-Lick said.

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570-821-2051, @CVBillW