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.


5th Annual Veterans' Business And Education Expo Is Tuesday

The Tennessee Veterans Business Association will hold its fifth annual Business and Education Expo from  8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Tuesday  at the Holiday Inn - World's Fair Park in Knoxville. This is a dual purpose event, a business trade show and hiring/education expo, and will provide opportunities for business to business networking, career opportunities showcase, ... (click for more)

3 Chief Petty Officers Pinned In Ceremony on Saturday

Three chief petty officers were officially pinned during their chief pinning ceremony on Saturday  at the downtown YMCA in Chattanooga .  The chief petty officer is the highest attainable rank in the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps. Chief petty officers must be in the Sea Cadet program for a minimum of 33 months, attend certain advanced trainings, complete ... (click for more)

Investigators Found Trail Of Blood, Beer Bottles Near Site Of Slaying Of Riverman

An investigator said a trail of blood and beer bottles was near where the lifeless body of 46-year-old Donald Rogers was found in an aluminum fishing boat on April 24, 2012. Detective Robin Langford said when he arrived at the site by boat docks off Johnson Road the body was still in the boat. He said the victim's head and arms were over the side of the boat. Chance Loftis, ... (click for more)

Man Stabbed In Domestic Dispute On Sunrise Lane Saturday Morning

A man was stabbed Saturday morning on Sunrise Lane.   At approximately  11:41  a.m., the Chattanooga Police Department responded to a reported stabbing at 309 Sunrise Lane.  Officers located a 45-year-old black male suffering from a non life-threatening stab wound. The victim was transported to a local hospital for his injury.   The ... (click for more)

Obama Doesn't Want You To Save For College

Over the past few decades, federal aid for post-secondary education has decreased and transitioned largely from grants to guaranteed student loans.   At the same time, the cost of college has far exceeded the cost of inflation creating a situation in which college has become less affordable and causing students to pile up debt that is at an all-time high.   This debt ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Great Peace Pipe

There is a serious rift between our state legislators and Erlanger Hospital that has me worried. If I worry about something, it doubles the power of the worry. My problem? I am convinced we have the best collection of people at the State Legislature in Nashville we’ve ever had – I adore each of them. I am also blessed to believe Erlanger is back on track and, after a sensational ... (click for more)