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.


Dalton Police Department To Host 2nd Citizens Police Academy In Spanish

After a successful first session last fall, the Dalton Police Department will host a second class of the Citizens Police Academy in Spanish later this summer. Applications are now being accepted for the program which will be held on six nights in August and September. The DPD has held a Citizens Police Academy for nearly two decades in English, and last fall held a condensed ... (click for more)

Book Signing And Watercolor Demonstration With Artist Alan Shuptrine At Star Line Books

Artist Alan Shuptrine will be on hand for a book signing of the Artist Catalogue and a watercolor demonstration at Star Line Books, 1467 Market St Suite 106 on Thursday, Sept. 7.  The event will take place from 6-8 p.m.   "The catalogue, Alan Shuptrine: Appalachian Watercolors of the Serpentine Chain, features images of Mr. Shuptrine’s watercolor paintings from his ... (click for more)

Bill Kilbride To Retire As Chamber CEO; Chamber Leader To Step Down Dec. 31; Chamber Starts Transition Process

Bill Kilbride, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Chamber, has announced that he is retiring from his position effective  Dec. 31 .   Larry Buie, chairman of the Chamber board of directors, expressed his appreciation for Bill's efforts. He said, “Bill Kilbride has led us through the past three years to a place of excellence in terms of strategic leadership. Among ... (click for more)

Corker Votes For Amendment To Repeal Core Elements Of Obamacare; Alexander Votes Against It

Senator Bob Corker voted for an amendment to repeal the core elements of Obamacare, while allowing for a reasonable transition period for a replacement to be developed and implemented. “As I have said before, I believe the best path forward is for Congress to repeal Obamacare after a reasonable transition period,” said Senator Corker. “This amendment would take us back ... (click for more)

Prayers For Denny - And Response

I don’t live in Chattanooga any longer unfortunately and haven’t for many years now, but when I did live there, I was more than a regular at Yesterdays.  It was basically my second home….as it was for many, many of my friends and others that I may not have known their names, but definitely knew their faces.   It was the “Cheers” of Chattanooga. It was the place that ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘No Sir -- It Stays Here’

To any of the millions who have served the United States on the field of combat, the most hallowed and prized distinction is our nation’s Medal of Honor. It is never given, it is always earned before it is ever awarded.  At least that’s the way it was up until a sun-splashed Wednesday three weeks ago in Vicenza, Italy. There is an Army base there that houses the 173 rd Airborne ... (click for more)