Shelbyville Soldier Missing For Nearly 70 Years To Be Laid To Rest

Thursday, August 21, 2014
PFC Cecil Harris
PFC Cecil Harris

Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder recognize the service and sacrifice of Private First Class Cecil E. Harris of Shelbyville. 

Mr. Harris was serving with the 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division on Jan. 2, 1945, when his platoon was holding a defensive position in Dambach, France near the German border during World War II.  The platoon came under attack and had to make a hasty withdrawal.  When the platoon was able to regroup, fellow soldiers realized PFC Harris was missing.  He was 19.

The United States Army Graves Registration Command (AGRC) investigated Mr. Harris’s loss with no success. In September, 2013, an official from the American Battle Monuments Commission notified the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) that a French national had located the possible grave of an American serviceman in the Alsace Region of France, near the city of Dambach. The grave was on a hilltop, under a large rock with a crude engraving of a cross and the letter “H”. 

The JPAC recovery team excavated the burial site and found PFC Harris’ identification tag, also known as dog tags, military items used by American service members during the time period of 1940s and human remains that were later confirmed through DNA samples and dental records to be Harris. 

“Cecil Harris is a Tennessee and American hero and it is fitting that he finally be laid to rest with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery,” Governor Haslam said.  “We join the Harris family in recognizing the loss of a young Tennessean who gave the ultimate sacrifice during World War II and hope they feel pride and a measure of peace.”

“Although it is difficult to reach such a somber conclusion, we are grateful the Harris family will have some closure regarding our fallen hero,” Commissioner Grinder said.  “PFC Cecil Harris deserves our recognition, respect and commitment to remember his service to our country and state.”

Mr. Harris is survived by his former wife, Helen Cooke of Chattanooga, son, William Edwin Harris of Mountain City and sister, Janice Carlton of Shelbyville. 

The body of PFC Harris will arrive at McGhee Tyson Airport on Wednesday, Aug. 27, at 11:06 a.m.

The funeral service for Mr. Harris will be held at Red Bank Baptist Church at 4000 Dayton Blvd. on Friday, Aug. 29, at 11:30 a.m. in Chattanooga. 

Governor Haslam has declared a day of mourning and ordered flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday, Oct. 22, in honor of PFC Cecil Harris’ ultimate sacrifice. Mr.  Harris will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 22, at 1 p.m.

Mr. Harris posthumously received the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart Medal.  He also received the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and World War II Victory Medal.


Weekly Road Construction Report

Here is the weekly road construction report for Hamilton County:  U.S. 27 (I-124) widening from I-24/U.S. 27 interchange to north of the Olgiati Bridge over the Tennessee River, including widening the Olgiati Bridge:  Work on this project continues.  The speed limit on U.S. 27 in the construction zone has been lowered to 45 MPH.  The contractor may have temporary ... (click for more)

Dalton Police Department Fundraising Kicks Off For Law Enforcement Torch Run

Following its best Special Olympics fundraising effort ever in 2016, the Dalton Police Department is once again joining police departments from across Georgia in the Law Enforcement Torch Run fundraiser. The DPD is taking part to help send Special Olympics Georgia (SOGA) athletes to the state games and fund other important parts of SOGA’s operation. Anyone can help by purchasing ... (click for more)

School Board Turns Thumbs Down To Proposed Funding Of Central Track

County school board members on Thursday night expressed a number of concerns about a proposed $500,000 new track under consideration for funding by the County Commission at Central High School. The vote was 9-0 to table a motion to accept the money (if offered). Karitsa Mosley-Jones said, "We've got students at schools on a high priority list and you're going to give me a track?" ... (click for more)

School Board Approves 4-Year Contract Extension With Independent Bus Drivers, Who Say They Can Handle 100 Routes; Extension Given On Custodial Contract

The county school board on Thursday night extended the contract by four years of school bus owner operators, who said they could deliver on 100 bus routes. The board delayed until a special meeting at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at Central High School the issue of whether to accept the offer of 100 contract routes. That would be handled by many of the current 49 owner operators taking ... (click for more)

Bikers Need To Have Licenses And Insurance - And Response

I am okay with Haslam’s idea of raising the gas tax and lowering the food tax.  But, I want to see a tax of bicycles since they have their own lanes now and they also have to be maintained. How much revenue would that bring in?  I would think if we have enough bike riders to have the lanes in the first place, there must be enough to generate some money for road improvements. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Where Is Central’s Auditorium?

I am surely one of the biggest proponents of high school athletics there is, especially after half a decade of being an eye witness to the vast array of lessons that are learned every day by anyone associated with sports. That said, I have watched the Hamilton County Commission waffle on a $500,000 track at Central High School with a certain curiosity because the same high school ... (click for more)