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Hundreds of cars surprise veteran for 95th birthday

The Hanford Sentinel - 12/17/2020

Dec. 16--HANFORD -- The "Top Gun Anthem" and "Danger Zone" played from a loud speaker as hundreds of cars made their way down Franklin Way and into the small cul-de-sac for a special moment.

Roy Harmon, a Navy veteran of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War, was given a drive-by birthday surprise with over 300 cars on Saturday.

"It was mind-boggling to me," Harmon said. "I could never comprehend getting that many people to drive down the street. It was beautiful."

As he sat at the front of his driveway waving to cars, Harmon was flanked by a dozen family members who drove down that morning from Folsom, El Dorado, Lancaster and Sacramento. It was his first time seeing the majority of his family in nine months due to COVID-19.

"I didn't ever expect to see half of these people here," Harmon said. "My granddaughters and my great-granddaughters. We got quite a crew going."

Started by the Hanford Police Department, community members, including from NAS Lemoore, honked their horns in decorated cars. Many had balloons and writing on their windows wishing Harmon a happy birthday and others carried large American flags. Some even dropped off gifts.

The line of cars stretched for more than a mile with the drive-by celebration lasting several minutes. During the drive-by, Harmon exclaimed that he would never forget this birthday.

"I don't know if I could give you an expression of what I thought," Harmon said. "But it was just so much pleasure for me. I never expected anything like that."

The former Master Chief, who retired out of NAS Lemoore in 1974, had no idea his 95th birthday would be one for the books. When asked if he knew what was going to happen, Harmon said, "Oh, none whatsoever."

Harmon's daughters, Linda Kurtzman and Patti Norton, took over a month to plan the surprise. Norton is the only one who lives nearby in Lemoore, so she was tasked with getting things started.

"We needed to do something to make him happy," Norton said. "I was like, 'OK let's do a drive-by,' and I started talking to friends, I got my sister involved."

Kurtzman called the surprise "really emotional" after not being able to see her father for so long.

"I really believe he was getting depressed and today to see the whole family. ... He's speechless to tell you the truth," Kurtzman said.

Norton said she was "flabbergasted" and was hoping for 30 cars to show up, while Kurtzman said she was speechless at the support that showed up for a veteran. Both were just happy to see their father happy.

After all was said and done, Harmon jokingly said, "I must be loved after all."

"I think my remembrance will start with my daughter coming in the house and saying, 'Come on dad,' because I did not have the slightest idea that this was going to happen," Harmon said.

Noe Garcia can be reached at (559) 583-2431 or Follow Noe on Twitter at @noecarlosgarcia.


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