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: I-24 East bridge repair over Chestnut Street at mile marker 178.6 near the U.S. 27 interchange and safety improvements on the bridges over the CSX Railroad and over U.S. 27:  Work on this project continues.  This project will repair the bridge on I 24 East over Chestnut Street at mile marker 178.6 near ... (click for more)

Dance Into Fall Contra Is Saturday

Chattanooga Traditional Dance Society presents Dance into Fall Contra! on Saturday from 7:30-11 p.m., featuring calling by Grant Yost and music by Ed and Elsie.  CTDS dances take place at Brainerd United Methodist Church, Lundy Hall, 4315 Brainerd Road. Admission is $8 and $5 for students and seniors.  Everyone is invited to join the family-friendly event and enjoy ... (click for more)

School Board Approves "Partnership" With State As "Lesser Of 2 Evils"

The County School Board on Thursday night voted 7-2 to join in talks with the State Department of Education leading to a Partnership Zone for five low-performing schools. Joe Smith and David Testerman voted against the plan. Other board members said the only alternative was for the state to take over several low-performing schools under the Achievement School District in which ... (click for more)

Jury Hears About Incident Behind Food Lion That Authorities Say Led To Triple Murders In Lookout Valley; Neighbor Saw Trio With Guns

A Criminal Court jury on Thursday was told about an incident behind the Food Lion on Brown's Ferry Road that authorities say was the motive for an April 9, 2014, massacre at a Lookout Valley trailer park. Brandon Jackson said the incident five days earlier involved Derek Morse, who is standing trial on three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree ... (click for more)

September Is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

The calendar fills up quickly in September as families return to a packed routine after quieter summer days. Unfortunately, your health might take a backseat to your busy schedule. So make a note on your calendar that September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and remind yourself—or the men in your life—about the importance of a healthy prostate.   Prostate cancer is ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: McQueen & Her TVAAS

If I am reading my Ouija Board right, I suspect the Hamilton County School Board will vote to allow a controversial “partnership” to be formed with the state Board of Education tonight at its monthly meeting. State Education Commissioner Candice McQueen has said she will demand the one-sided partnership to take over the operation of five at-risk schools in Hamilton County and, if ... (click for more)