Capt. Jack Harvey, a 1965 Choctawhatchee High School graduate who was shot down over South Vietnam in 1972, will have his name engraved on the Okaloosa County Veterans Memorial.
CRESTVIEW — Within the next few months, the name of a 1965 Choctawhatchee High School graduate who was shot down over South Vietnam in 1972 will be engraved on the Okaloosa County Veterans Memorial.
The memorial, on the Okaloosa County Courthouse grounds in Crestview, honors county residents who were killed, captured or listed as missing in action in wars involving American military personnel.
Capt. Jack Harvey will become the latest addition to the monument sometime this spring or summer, according to Crestview Mayor David Cadle, a member of the memorial’s board of directors.
The delay in recognizing Harvey is a result of ongoing construction of the new courthouse, which has left the grounds near the memorial in some disarray. The memorial board is concerned that the grounds’ current condition wouldn't be conducive to honoring Harvey, Cadle explained.
“We’d like for it to be a little more palatable,” Cadle said. Courthouse construction is slated to be complete in about five months.
On the morning of Nov. 28, 1972, 24-year-old 1st Lt. Jack R. Harvey — he was promoted to captain after he went missing — was piloting an F-4D Phantom from Udorn Royal Thai Airfield to Da Nang Air Base. Also on board was Capt. Bobby Jones, a flight surgeon. At an estimated 20 miles west of Da Nang, the jet disappeared from radar, going down in an area of heavy enemy activity in deteriorating weather. A search and rescue effort was initiated, but the weather and enemy activity forced its quick cancellation.
Search efforts have continued periodically in the ensuing years. Pieces of the aircraft have been recovered, but no human remains have been located.
For Jim Hawkins, a longtime Okaloosa County resident who pressed for years to have Harvey’s name included on the monument, news that the name is just months away from appearing on the memorial is welcome.
“It makes me feel great,” said Hawkins, an Army veteran and a 1971 graduate of Choctaw High School.
Hawkins said that for him, the fact that Harvey’s name was not on the memorial meant that he had been lost twice.
“He was lost in Vietnam, and lost in Okaloosa County,” Hawkins said.
According to Hawkins, there are a handful of other Okaloosa residents whose names should be on the memorial in Crestview, and he is continuing to work to have their names added to the monument.
Efforts to have Harvey’s name added to the memorial gained momentum in January. At that time, the board of directors announced they were searching for family members as a final step in getting Harvey’s name on the monument.
The board consults a variety of sources to determine whether a local combat death can be included on the memorial, and then talks with the family.
“We don’t want to put any name of the wall without the family’s knowledge,” Cadle said in a January interview.
Within a day of a Northwest Florida Daily News story on the board’s search for Harvey’s family, his widow contacted the newspaper. The former Barbara Harvey, now Babs Sullivan, had been a local businesswoman for a number of years. She is now retired and living on Choctawhatchee Bay near Niceville. The couple’s daughter, Kelly Fernandez, also lives in the area.
Barbara Bell and Jack Harvey met at Choctawhatchee High School and were married a few years later. In the years after her husband’s disappearance — he wasn’t listed as “deceased” until 1980 — Barbara Harvey became an advocate for families with military members missing in action.
Cadle spoke with Sullivan about having Harvey’s name inscribed on the memorial shortly after her story appeared in the newspaper.
“We had a wonderful conversation,” he said. “She’s just thrilled by this.”
The upcoming inclusion of Harvey’s name on the Okaloosa County Veterans Memorial likely will be accompanied by some sort of ceremony, Cadle said. That’s partly in hopes that calling attention to the memorial might prompt other local families who lost service members in war to come forward, he explained.
“I’m sure we’ve missed people,” he said.