Veteran Spotlight August 23, 2019

Lt. Colonel Ethan Harding

It is an absolute pleasure to present this week’s Veterans Spotlight feature subject. He is truly one of Falmouth’s own. Ethan Harding was born and raised in Falmouth and is a graduate of Falmouth High School where, current coach Paul Moore told me, “Ethan was the best kid I ever had the pleasure of coaching. Hands down.”

Lieutenant Colonel Ethan Harding served his country with distinction and honor for 23 years in the US Marine Corps. In summer 1996 he attended Officer Training School, which he described as “a boot camp for officers.” He graduated from Norwich University in 1997 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marines.

“Describing what I did in the Marines wasn’t easy,” Lt. Col. Harding said. Initially trained to lead tank units, he ended up in what’s called Civil Affairs and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2004 (he would be deployed five times throughout his 23-year career). His missions were highly dangerous; he was sent to villages to meet with local, unforgiving and vicious warlords, sometimes on foot, on horseback or by Toyota. Many times he had no protection or security. “Our larger goal was to try and link different layers of government (village, district, province) to the national government in Kabul,” he said.

After graduating from the US Army’s prestigious Command and General Staff College he was sent to Afghanistan, where he was responsible for Civil Affairs’ efforts in the Northern Helmand Province. Just one year later Lt. Col. Harding was responsible for all efforts in the Nimroz Province, between Helmand and Iran.

The rest of his career was spent in various instructor positions, the latest at the USMC’s Command and Staff College.

Lt. Col. Harding was deployed a total of 3½ years. “I missed plenty of holidays,” he remembered. “If you’re lucky, you’re busy enough to make the time go by. If anything, trying to celebrate the holidays overseas just makes it worse.” I asked him about entertainment overseas and he said, “The best entertainment always comes from your war buddies. Things get so absurd that being able to crack funny jokes…that’s what gets you through the hard times.”

When asked about mentorship Lt. Col/ Harding shared this: “I was very fortunate to have great mentors throughout my formative years in Falmouth. I was a survivor of coach (Buddy) Ferreira’s black-and-blue Tuesday practices. Therefore, Marine instructors trying to scream and intimidate [me] was sadly amateur. Suffice to say, I left Falmouth with all the tools necessary to succeed in the Marines.”

He continued, “As a lieutenant assigned to 1st Tank Battalion, I worked under then-Lieutenant Rick Mancini. He saw to it that I had the opportunity to deploy with my tank platoon on stuff—a great honor in pre-9/11 days and extremely valuable for my knowledge of how the Navy and Marine Corps work together.”

Lt. Col. Harding’s awards personify that of a brave soldier and include the Bronze Star, Combat Action Ribbon, Meritorious Service Medal (twice) and The Order of Saint George.

Lt. Col. Ethan Harding, thank you for your service to our great country.

Contact Wayne Soares at waynesoares1@gmail.com

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