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'Go back up that mountain': West Forsyth grad Harold Earls on trekking Mount Everest
Former Army Captain Harold Earls speaks during a meeting of the Cumming Chapter 1030 of the Vietnam Veterans of America on Feb. 2, 2021. (Photo for the Forsyth County News)

By Marty Ferrell

For the Forsyth County News

Since graduating from West Forsyth High School in 2011, Harold Earls has lived a life of high adventure and has headed one of the U.S. military’s most prestigious and world-renowned units. 

Soon after earning his commission at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he led the first Army team to include a combat wounded amputee to climb to the summit of Mount Everest.  

The rigorous advance to the summit was completed without more than the usual adversity. However, on the way down they encountered a fierce storm with treacherous winds of 75 miles an hour, splitting up the team.  

Earls and his Sherpa guide made it down in one piece, but two others on the team remained unaccounted for. Exhausted but safe, he contacted his father who told him something he said he will never forget.  

“Son you need to go back up that mountain to find the missing team members or you need to die trying, because that’s what leaders do,” his father said. 

As fate would have it, as soon as he started his re-ascent, he spotted the headlamps of the missing team members. Except for suffering from frostbite and being physically spent everyone returned safely. 

Earls, who recently returned to Georgia following his time in the Army, spoke to the members of Cumming Chapter 1030 of the Vietnam Veterans of America on Feb. 2. The former Airborne Ranger-Qualified Captain told the veterans that serving as Commander of the elite Guard Unit of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery was the honor of a lifetime. 

With 250 thousand headstones of heroes and those buried at the Tomb of the Unknown, Earls said: “It was the hills of Arlington that gave me a deeper appreciation for this country than I can ever explain. I feel humbled even talking about it.” 

Earls and his wife, Rachel, authored a best-selling book entitled “A Higher Calling” and have just moved to Roswell to make a home for his two boys with a third child on the way. 

Cumming Chapter 1030 of the Vietnam Veterans of America meets at 7 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month at AA Driving Academy, 432 Canton Highway, Cumming, Georgia 30040. For more info visit