Harold Bascom Durham was born on October 12, 1942 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. It was there that he picked up the nickname “Pinky” because the hospital where he was born ran out of blue blankets and he was given a pink one out of necessity.
Shortly after his birth, Durham’s father, a Marine World War II veteran, and his mother, Grace, moved the family to Tifton, Georgia. There they raised Durham and his older brother John and younger sister Eugenia.
He lived in Tifton until moving to Durango, Colarado in 1960 to attend the Fort Lewis A&M College. He also worked in the hotel industry before returning to Georgia in 1963.
2d Lt. Durham, Artillery, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the cost of his life above and beyond the call of duty while assigned to Battery C. 2d Lt. Durham was serving as a forward observer with Company D, 2d Battalion, 28th Infantry during a battalion reconnaissance-in-force mission.
At approximately 1015 hours contact was made with an enemy force concealed in well-camouflaged positions and fortified bunkers. 2d Lt. Durham immediately moved into an exposed position to adjust the supporting artillery fire onto the insurgents. During a brief lull in the battle he administered emergency first aid to the wounded in spite of heavy enemy sniper fire directed toward him.
Moments later, as enemy units assaulted friendly positions, he learned that Company A, bearing the brunt of the attack, had lost its forward observer. While he was moving to replace the wounded observer, the enemy detonated a Claymore mine, severely wounding him in the head and impairing his vision.
In spite of the intense pain, he continued to direct the supporting artillery fire and to employ his individual weapon in support of the hard pressed infantrymen. As the enemy pressed their attack, 2d Lt. Durham called for supporting fire to be placed almost directly on his position.
Twice the insurgents were driven back, leaving many dead and wounded behind. 2d Lt. Durham was then taken to a secondary defensive position. Even in his extremely weakened condition, he continued to call artillery fire onto the enemy. He refused to seek cover and instead positioned himself in a small clearing which offered a better vantage point from which to adjust the fire. Suddenly, he was severely wounded a second time by enemy machine gun fire.
As he lay on the ground near death, he saw two Viet Cong approaching, shooting the defenseless wounded men. With his last effort, 2d Lt. Durham shouted a warning to a nearby soldier who immediately killed the insurgents. 2d Lt. Durham died moments later, still grasping the radio handset. 2d Lt. Durham’s gallant actions in close combat with an enemy force are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U. S. Army.
Durham’s older brother John joined the Army and he decided to follow him into the service. He enlisted in February 1964. He first did a tour in Vietnam as a helicopter and airplane mechanic. Later he accepted an offer to go to Field Artillery Officer Candidate School. After receiving his officer commission in December 1966, he volunteered to go back to Vietnam. He returned to Vietnam in September 1967.
Durham was a member of the 1st Infantry Division’s 15th Field Artillery Regiment. However, Oct. 17, 1967, he was serving as a forward observer with Company D of the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Division, about 56 miles northwest of Saigon. Their objective was reconnaissance in the area. Lieutenant Durham’s job was to radio in requests for artillery fire to support infantry soldiers. Unknown to them they had walked into a Viet Cong fortified area.
In the ensuing battle Durham was killed while valiantly working to support and protect others in his unit. His mother, Grace Jolly, accepted his Medal of Honor from Vice President Spero Agnew on October 31, 1969 in a ceremony in Washington, D.C,
Shown here are the medals Major Carter earned during his career. They include:
He is buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Tifton, Georgia
The Army Field Artillery Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame in Fort Sill, Oklahoma was renamed Durham Hall in his honor.
A highway is named for him in Ocilla, Georgia
The DAV Chapter in Tifton, Georgia is named in his honor
In 2016 the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia created the Freedom Gallery as a tribute to him.