MCAS Beaufort, S.C. --
Former Beaufort County Council Vice Chairman W.R. “Skeet” Von Harten was awarded the Order of the Palmetto by Senator Tom Davis, on behalf of South Carolina’s governor, Mark Sanford, during an award and retirement ceremony at the Beaufort County Council Chamber Friday.
The Order of the Palmetto is the highest civilian award in South Carolina and is earned by those who have dedicated their lives to making a positive impact in their communities and across the state, according to Susan Larson, the Beaufort County Council public information officer.
A former Lt. Col. stationed aboard Parris Island, Von Harten has been an advocate of the local military bases throughout his career and came to Tri-Command’s aid when the bases were scrutinized by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Committee.
“As chairman of the Beaufort County Council Military Affairs Committee, Skeet was a force that helped convince federal lawmakers of Beaufort County’s outstanding commitment to its local military,” said Beaufort County Council Chairman, Weston Newton. “By initiating military-friendly policies and through activism and dedication, our local bases and our local economy were spared.”
Von Harten also served as chairman of the Beaufort County Council Land Management Committee, where he worked toward a partnership with the Department of the Navy to purchase and preserve property around the Air Station, protecting it from encroachment.
“Through this effort, Beaufort County became the first local government to partner with the federal government in land preservation to protect a Marine Corps facility,” Newton said.
Von Harten, who earned the Silver Star, Purple Heart and two Bronze Star Medals during his military career, has helped many veterans resolve problems with their retirement pay, obtaining benefits or accessing Veteran Affairs facilities, Newton added.
Even now, Von Harten is working to help citizens fund an expansion of Beaufort’s National Cemetery, according to Newton.
“Skeet has met with Congressman Joe Wilson about the need for (expanding the Beaufort National Cemetery) and is working tirelessly to resolve this matter,” Newton explained. “I have full confidence that Skeet’s leadership will once again prove successful and that many more South Carolinians will have the final resting place they deserve because of it.”
As he retires from public life, Von Harten looks forward to relaxing and traveling with his wife.
“As a former infantry officer, I am just so proud of the Marines today for continuing a tradition of being great warfighters,” Von Harten added.
Sgt. Lukas Atwell
South Carolina Senator Tom Davis, right, presents the Order of the Palmetto Award to W.R. “Skeet” Von Harten, former Beaufort County Council vice chairman in the Beaufort County Council Chamber, Friday. the Order of the Palmetto is the state’s highest civilian award given to people who have put a lifetime of service to their communities and to the state.