Veteran recounts time boxing in the Army
WARREN — Many people likely remember the popular 1970s hit sitcom “All in the Family,” but for Andre R. Harvey, the phrase means something more specific.
“We have generations of service to this country. We have every branch of the military covered, except the Navy,” the 59-year-old U.S. Army veteran said about members of his family.
Harvey spoke recently from his Warren home about his eight years in the Army, from 1984 to 1992, during the Gulf War, which also included two tours of duty in Germany from 1985 to 1987 as well as 1990 to 1992. He also expressed pride in the fact numerous family members have served the nation as well.
It’s not a stretch to say a desire to don a uniform and serve the country is in the family’s DNA.
Harvey’s father, Robert Harvey Jr., spent three years in the Army during the Korean War; his brother, Mitchell, served two years in the Army; brothers Keith and Richard Harvey spent about three years in the U.S. Air Force; Andre Harvey’s daughter, Ebony J. Harvey, was in the Army four years during the war in Iraq; and his son, Dezmond A. Harvey, 19, enlisted in the Army last March and is stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.
In addition, Andre Harvey’s great-nephew, Emmanuel Rogers, is in the Marine Corps. A niece, Shawnita Harvey, is in the Army, he said.
Shortly after enlisting, Harvey, a 1978 LaBrae High School graduate, was assigned to Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield at Fort Drum, N.Y., where he became an expert in the use of petroleum products. One of his primary duties included working on ground guiding aircraft, he said.
“I was in control of the whole fueling operation for the 10th Mountain Division,” which is a light infantry division designated as a mountain warfare unit, Harvey said.
In Germany, he worked in the same capacity largely in a supply unit, though a look at Harvey’s military career would be far from complete without including his boxing abilities. Those resulted in him becoming All-Army Boxing champion and qualifying for the Western Olympic Trials in the late 1980s.
“I was a soldier by day, and I trained at boxing in the evenings,” said Harvey, who added he learned the sport beginning as a child growing up in Braceville and under the influence of boxing legends Earnie Shavers and Randy Stephens, both of whom lived in Warren.
Shavers was a two-time heavyweight champion who scored 68 knockouts in 74 wins during his 26-year career from 1969 to 1995, and he fought Muhammad Ali on Sept. 29, 1977, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Stephens, who also was a heavyweight, retired with a 25-9 record.
“(Stephens) told me, ‘The Army has the best amateur boxing program in the whole country,'” Harvey said, noting that in the 1988 Olympics, four Army soldiers won gold medals, including heavyweight Ray Mercer. “I was privileged enough to be on the same boxing team with those guys.”
While competing in Germany, Harvey twice won the 5th Core Boxing Championship and the U.S. Army Europe Boxing Title, along with one 7th Core Boxing Championship, he said with pride.
In addition, the eight-year Army veteran took first place in the European Silver Cup Boxing Tour, Harvey said, adding that in 1983, he attended the All-Comers Training Camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., which is an Olympics training center.
Harvey also recalled his daughter, Ebony, got quite a surprise one day while she was attending a military intelligence school at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
“She looked up and saw a picture of me on the wall of the gym, where I won All-Army championships in 1990,” he said.
After his discharge, Harvey returned home and worked for a while as a forklift driver, skills for which he learned from his military experience. He also became a certified machinist and found work in health care and other related facilities.
Things have a way of going full circle in the Harvey family, because Dezmond, who’s an airborne soldier, attained the ranking of private first class after only about six months of active duty. The younger Harvey also received the Iron Man Award for maintaining a score of 300 throughout physical fitness and advanced individual training, Andre noted.
Also, Dezmond, who hopes to replicate his father’s feats, likely will be training with the Fort Bragg Boxing Team, the elder Harvey said.
“It’s an honor to me, because he’s following in my footsteps,” Harvey said, adding that his daughter, Tanisha Harvey, was born on Veterans Day.