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Centralia Fireside Guard Veterans Day Profile: Centralia Police Chief Harlan Hatton

Posted on Tuesday, November 7, 2023 at 5:22 pm

Centralia Police Chief and veteran, Harlan Hatton

‘A time to remember that freedom is not free’

Harlan Hatton, Chief of the Centralia Police department, served his country for four years as a United States Marine.

It was 1992, and Hatton then was getting together with his friend Jerry Benson.

Benson had just joined the United States Marine Corps.

By the evening’s end, Hatton, who was at a self-described turning point in his life, decided he too, would enlist. “At that point in my life, it was the best decision I could make.”

His next stop was MCRD, San Diego, California for Boot Camp.

“I did feel it was pretty stressful at the time,” Hatton said of boot camp, “but not that physically challenging. I actually gained 20 pounds.” And yes, he said, they do get up early in boot camp.

Reveille, the morning wake-up bugle sounded between 5:30 and 6 a.m. every morning, Hatton said.

Columbia to San Diego might seem like an opportunity for some culture shock, but Hatton said he was way too busy at boot camp to take in much of California. But from there, he was stationed to Washington DC.

September 5, 1992, Hatton arrived at the 8th and K Street USMC Barracks in Washington DC.

That he said, was the eye-opener.

“I had never been outside of Missouri and had barely left Boone County,” Hatton said. “Washington DC in the early 90s was something else.”

It was back to the barracks again, but just for a little while.

He married his wife, Rhonda that December and they moved into an apartment together.

But the days were still long, one of the things, despite the glamor of the job, Hatton was a member of the Marine Honor Guard, every work day was a 12-hour day.

For the complete article see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.