Feel Good Friday: WWII Veteran & Pearl Harbor Survivor Awarded Honorary College Degree

Posted: Feb 09, 2018 7:30 PM

Fox News reports that a World War II veteran who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor has been awarded an honorary college degree for his service to the country. 

William Henry Harvey, 95, was assigned to the U.S.S. Sacramento, a PG-19 gunboat, but due to segregation in the service at the time he never served in a combat role and was assigned to be a cook.

“Nobody wanted the black man in the Navy," Harvey told FOX59.

While he wasn't in a direct combat role, the Sacramento was at Pearl Harbor during the attack by Japan on Dec. 7, 1941.

"You learned how to kill and how to use the ammunition properly," Harvey said. "You learned everything as a cook to do the job that is necessary to destroy the enemy.”

William Henry Harvey was given an honorary college degree as a thank you for his time in the military during World War II.  (FOX59)

Harvey's stories of his military service reached officials at Ivy Tech Community College after a history professor visited the healthcare facility where 95-year-old lives last year on Veterans Day.

They later decided to present the Navy veteran with an honorary degree for College and Community Service during their Black History Month celebration, themed "Blacks in the Time of War."

Fox59 reports that "Harvey, 95, joined the military in 1940 while attending Crispus Attucks High School. Before graduation, he was already beginning training at the nearby Heslar Naval Armory. 

According to CBSIndy4, Ivy Tech changed plans in order to fully appreciate Harvey's service. 

The Coma Before the Storm
Kurt Schlichter

“Originally, we just planned to present him with a small plaque to recognize our appreciation for his service to the country," said Anthony Conley, an adjunct history professor at Ivy Tech and the school's coordinator for male empowerment initiatives. "Our chancellor, Dr. Kathy Lee suggested we make it a full blown honorary degree.”