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July 1, 2013

Vietnam vet, grand-niece get diplomas together

ELIZABETHTOWN — Some learn about life from books; Harry Denton got an education from experience. 

Denton, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, received his high-school diploma a half century after his peers and on the same day as a grandson, Tyler Poitras, and grand-niece, Kacie Rider. 

In fact, Denton had to rise early to attend the mid-morning ceremony for Poitras, as his school is in Saratoga.

Then he returned home to take the stage himself at Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School, where he and Rider would accept their diplomas. 

“There are other things besides school where one can get an education,” Denton said.

‘PRETTY AWESOME’

His grand-niece had only admiration for him. 

“I just found out today that he would be graduating with me,” she said recently. “It’s pretty awesome to have a great-uncle that has had so many experiences. 

“We always like to go to his hunting camp.” 

Denton’s wife, Cecile, was pleased with the honor bestowed on her husband. 

“It’s nice. I’m glad they are honoring him,” she said. “Sometimes veterans don’t get honored until they pass on.”

WOUNDED TWICE

Denton has no regrets concerning his service.

“The military is a good thing. It does a body good,” he said. “It helps you learn to follow and work with others and take orders. 

“I had many experiences I might not have had, like flying in helicopters. I think everybody should have an experience like the military for two, three or four years.”

Denton was wounded twice in battle during the Vietnam War. One of his two Purple Hearts was presented to him by the commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, Gen. William Westmoreland. 

‘FIGHTING ALL AROUND’

Drafted into the Army, as were many soldiers in the 1960s, he was assigned to the 1st Air Cavalry, stationed at An Khe in the rugged Central Highlands. 

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