Whether it be in his former role as a U.S. Army Reserve Colonel or his present position as an Amarillo Police Department Lieutenant, Fred Harmon has dutifully and passionately embraced service.
Before he became the APD's Fleet Manager, Harmon enlisted in the Army Reserve after high school in 1982, embarking upon a military service journey that spanned 33 years and eight months, concluding with retirement in 2016.
"I only wanted to be two things, a soldier and a police officer," Harmon, a native of Owasso, Oklahoma, said. "I became a reserve soldier and then a full time police officer. I have had a variety of roles and responsibilities, from Military Police Officer, Infantry Officer to Civil Affairs Officer, but I tell everyone I got more out of Army than the Army got out of me."
Harmon, who had tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, worked with the Marines, Army and the State Department in varied capacities during deployment, including serving as a liaison for coalition forces in Iraq and working in Afghanistan as a civil affairs planner helping with humanitarian aid.
"I was involved with projects to rebuild infrastructure, help oversee elections and lend assistance in the area of police training command," he said. "We worked with training academies and had a coalition force with military from different countries to ensure law enforcement personnel were properly equipped and trained before executing police duties."
Harmon, who buys and prepares all of the cars, manages the fleet and oversees radio communications within the police department, said he has friends all over the world because of his military experiences.
"Law enforcement and the reserves work together," he said. "We've got our own little network going and every day at the Amarillo Police Department I use skills the military taught me. It's about implementing interpersonal skills and being a part of something bigger than yourself. I have been at the Amarillo Police Department for 25 years, transitioning back and forth between deployments. It's been an honor."
Harmon said when he thinks of Veterans Day, he thinks of family.
"It's because the people I served with are family," he said. "These are people I spent a significant amount of time with daily. Being in a combat zone is an experience within itself. It's great to know when you're in a foreign place you have people around you who are your support system. I encourage kids to pursue varied experiences and get their education. It can lead to things they may not normally have a chance to do."