Those close to military veteran Harold “Hal” Jordan describe him as intensely private, one who doesn’t like talking about himself or receiving praise from others.
However, his friends at the Blue Springs Elk Lodge Wednesday insisted on drawing attention to the two-time Purple Heart recipient and his three decades in the military, which spanned World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam, in honor of his 90th birthday.
Jordan enlisted in the military in 1945 and retired in 1975. He was a captain in the First Cavalry at the Battle of Ia Drang Valley 53 years ago, which the 2002 film “We Were Soldiers” famously depicted. Throughout his long career, he also earned a Medal of Freedom and numerous other awards.
Nine years ago, he became a member of the Blue Springs Elks Lodge, a service organization that emphasizes veteran aid. The Elks count “So long as there are veterans, they will never be forgotten” among their mottos, a sentiment that other members’ love for Jordan reflects.
“He’s been my hero,” said David Kuhlman, an Elks member who spends several evenings a week with Jordan and accompanies him to breakfast every Sunday. “I don’t know of anyone in this lodge who doesn’t want to be around him as much as possible.”
Along with Jordan’s military career, Kuhlman says the veteran often talks about his late wife and his time earning a doctorate at Tulane University. Notably, Jordan rode from his nearby base to the university on a helicopter each day.
After he left the military and a subsequent career as a private pilot, Jordan began working as a bus driver for the Blue Springs School District. In this second profession, he met Evelyn Hurshman, another driver who once honked her horn at him.
“Now, he says ‘beep, beep’ whenever he passes me,” Hurshman explained with a laugh. “He’s just a fun-loving guy.”
“I had no idea about the extent of his military career until tonight. He doesn’t talk about it a lot.”
For Maria Stiles, another Elks member, talking to Jordan helps her remember and appreciate her father, a former veteran. These conversations unfold mainly over dinners and “toddies,” and stemmed from Jordan wearing a military hat, a proud but discrete sign.
Even Jordan’s birthday gift from other lodge members -- a painting of him in uniform and in front of an American flag -- pays tribute to this legacy.
“Here, everybody knows him,” Stiles said.