Bruce Harriman Sr., a veteran who has been unsuccessful in his attempts to get his name engraved on the Camden veterans honor roll, was recognized Nov. 10 when a tile in his honor was placed on the Midcoast Area Veterans Memorial.

After hearing Harriman's story, the Midcoast Area Veterans Memorial Committee, along with an anonymous donation from a veteran, decided to place a tile on the Rockland wall completely free of charge.

Harriman was born in Camden and attended Camden-area schools before dropping out prior to graduating and joining the U.S. Navy. After a tour in Vietnam on the U.S.S. Jason, he returned to the area, working and living several years in Camden.

Since he physically lived in and enlisted from Hope when he joined the military, he kept getting turned down when trying to be honored on Camden's honor roll, which is located on the downtown Village Green. To qualify, a veteran must have been a resident of the town of Camden at the time they joined the armed forces and must have been in the military or Merchant Marines during wartime. They do not have to have been in combat. Hope does not have an honor roll.

About two years ago, shortly before Harriman decided to pursue being listed on the Camden wall, he was diagnosed with lung and throat cancer — a diagnosis doctors from Togus have told him is directly related to his exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam.

On Nov. 10, Harriman met at the wall with James Brannan, who is a committee member associated with the Midcoast Area Veterans Memorial, located next to the Winslow-Holbrook-Merritt American Legion Post off Limerock Street, to see his tile for the first time.

"I'm not good enough to go on that wall in Camden. Mike [McNeil] called me and said 'you don't have to say anything,'" Harriman said. And that's when he learned the committee would be placing a tile on the wall in his honor.

In 2012, the Midcoast Area Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Rockland after 16 years of planning. The wall is the result of the efforts of a committee of eight, led by Navy veteran Michael McNeil of Rockland.

Brannan said McNeil put together the committee, which includes the help of many area service organizations — Kiwanis, Elks, Rotary and the American Legion provided an easement for the land where the wall is located. Brannan said the spot is significant because it is near the site of a Civil War encampment.

The wall is dedicated to veterans and all veterans’ families from all wars and conflicts. The wall honors those who served in the Merchant Marines, Air Force, Navy, Army, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, and POW-MIA's. McNeil said there are a little more than 300 tiles on the wall with a lot of space left to add on veterans.

"We are honored to have him join us today. We are honored to have all veterans — men, women, anyone," Brannan said. Brannan is also a Vietnam veteran, who has a tile on the wall. "We are an inclusive wall, we do not exclude anyone."

The tile includes a picture of Harriman, who joked that it's shocking that a photo of him in uniform even exists as he was never big on having his picture taken. When he was on ship, they had a photographer on board one day and he reluctantly agreed to go up on deck to have the one and only professional photograph that exists of him in uniform taken.

Any veteran or veteran's family who would like to be included on the wall can order a tile online. The cost is $175.

"Once in the military… you are always in the military," Harriman said.

For more information on the Midcoast Area Veterans Memorial, go to midcoastveteranswall.com.

Courier Publications Editor Kim Lincoln can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at klincoln@villagesoup.com.