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Honoring Black Hawk County's oldest veteran


WATERLOO (KWWL) -- She's lived through the Great Depression, a half dozen wars, and served two years in the Navy during World War II. But never in her wildest dreams did 97-year old Nona Harvester think she'd be featured in a parade.

Harvester is proud to wave her, apparently, oversized American flag.

"I was going to bring just a little one!" she joked.

She's even more excited to ride through downtown Waterloo, honored as Black Hawk County's oldest veteran.

"She's been looking forward to this for months," said Harvester's niece Sue Hummel.

"Just awesome, just great. Never thought I'd live to be in a parade," said Harvester.

She still finds it hard to believe, but at age 97, Harvester easily earns the distinction.

"I was surprised to be the oldest veteran! How old are you?" she asked the female veteran sitting in the front seat of her convertible.

In 1944, Harvester and one of her girlfriends decided, on a whim, to join the Navy.

"She never brags, she's very modest about her time in the service," Hummel noted.

"I didn't get to go in active duty, but I was in the hospital and took care of them," Harvester said.

She ended up in California, working as a nurse in the tuberculosis ward. It may not have been on the front lines, but Harvester did battle with life and death.

"Some were 18, 17, they lied about going in. We had one that was really sick, we was giving him oxygen, and he didn't make it. And it's sad when we lose one," she recalled.

It's these men, and of course women, Harvester remembers on Memorial Day. Harvester's loved ones, on the other hand, are honoring their family matriarch.

"I'm glad that Memorial Day is still a big deal in this country. Because I think it needs to be. We're proud of her!" said Hummel.

"It's awesome. I didn't know I'd live this long. But I guess everything's possible!" Harvester added.

Harvester left the Navy after two years to marry her husband. As she says, in those days, women couldn't serve after they tied the knot.

Harvester was one of several female veterans honored in Waterloo's Memorial Day Parade.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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