David Harker was born in 1945 in Virginia. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on June 6, 1967, and completed basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in August 1967. Pvt Harker next attended advanced individual training as an Infantry Direct Fire Crewman at Fort Polk, Louisiana, from August to October 1967, followed by service as a rifleman with Company A and then D, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment of the 196th Infantry Brigade in South Vietnam from November 1967 until he was captured and taken as a Prisoner of War on January 8, 1968. After spending 1,884 days in captivity, SSG Harker was released during Operation Homecoming on March 5, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Valley Forge General Hospital in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, and then received an honorable discharge from the Army on June 33, 1973. After leaving the Army, David resumed his studies at Virginia Tech, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration in June 1976. He then worked as a corrections officer for the next 30 years, serving as a Probation and Parole Officer with the Commonwealth of Virginia, as a Parole Examiner with the Virginia Parole Board, and lastly as Vice Chairman of the Parole Board appointed by Governor Mark Warner. David was called back into state service in 2007 to work part time for the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, and he worked for 18 months as a Special Outreach Coordinator before retiring in 2008. God, family, and country have defined David's life. He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Linda Ivery, since October1, 1977, and they have two grown children: Megan Emanuel (Mike) and Adam (Anza). Their two grandchildren, Emily Grace and Ethan Michael, have increased Linda and David's family and joy. David serves as an Elder in Rivermont Evangelical Presbyterian Church and with the Gideons International. He is still asked to speak at local schools, churches, and various civic and veterans events giving testimony of a faith that sustained him while a POW and an appreciation for the American fighting man and American Ideals.
His Bronze Star Medal Citation reads:
Staff Sergeant David N. Harker distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service to the United States of America while detained as a Prisoner of War in Southeast Asia during the period 8 January 1968 to 5 March 1973. His ceaseless efforts, by a continuous showing of resistance to an enemy who ignored all international agreements on treatment of prisoners of war, in the extremely adverse conditions of the communist prisons of Southeast Asia demonstrated his professional competence, unwavering devotion and loyalty to his country. Despite harsh treatment through his long years of incarceration, this American continued to perform his duties in a clearly exceptional manner which reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Army.