PFC Cecil Edwin Harris

PFC Cecil Edwin Harris

Shelbyville, Bedford County, Tennessee, USA
Death 2 Jan 1945 (aged 19)
Dambach, Departement du Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot Section 55, Site 938
Memorial ID 131091747 · View Source
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Army Soldier Died During World War II; Remains Found In France In September, 2013
Monday, August 25, 2014 The Chattanoogan

Army Pfc. Cecil E. Harris, husband, father and World War II veteran, Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient, passed away on Jan. 2, 1945, in the Battle of the Bulge in France. His remains were found in France in September of 2013.

Cecil was born in Shelbyville, Tn. and he enjoyed things like farming, hunting and horses.

On Jan. 2, 1945, Pfc. Harris and Company D, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division was deployed to France. Pfc. Harris was a member of the rifle platoon whose mission was to hold a defensive position near Dambach, France. During this mission, Harris’ platoon was attacked by German forces and was forced to withdraw to a more defensible position. After the attack, Harris was reported missing.

Pfc. Cecil Harris was killed in action during Operation Nordwind, the last German offensive along the Western European front during World War II. His body was not recovered until more than 68 years later.

On Sept. 3, 2013, the American Battlefield Monuments Commission (ABMC) contacted the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) to inform them a private citizen, while hiking near Dambach had found possible human remains and an identification tag with Harris’ name.

From Sept. 9-11, 2013, a JPAC recovery team excavated a burial site in Dambach recovering possible human remains, personal effects and military gear that correlated to Mr. Harris.

To identify Mr. Harris’s remains, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used forensic identification tools such as dental comparison with his records and mitochondrial DNA, which matched Mr. Harris’s sister and niece.

Pfc. Harris is survived by his wife, Helen Harris Cooke of Chattanooga; son, Edwin "Eddie" (Mary Jo) Harris of Mountain City, Tn.; sisters, Janice Carlton and Alice Marie “Polly” Harris both of Shelbyville; grandson, William Edwin “Eddie” Harris, Jr. of Monteagle; granddaughter, Christy Leann Harris (Mark) Besserman of Wilsonville, Illinois; great-grandson, Elston Harris of Pelham; great granddaughter, Sierra Kampmann of Granite City, Illinois; two step granddaughters, several step great-grandchildren and step great-great-grandchildren.

Cecil was followed in death by his father, Henry Dennis Harris; mother, Mary Lee Harris; brothers, Henry Dennis “H. D.” Harris, Jr., Leonard Franklin Harris, Sr. and Earl G. Harris; sisters, Ruth Adams, Claudia Gleaves and Sarah Faullin.

A celebration of Pfc. Harris’ life will be held for family and invited friends on Aug. 29, in Chattanooga. He will then be buried on October 22 in Arlington National Cemetery.

Arrangements are by the North Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory and Florist, 5401 Highway 153, Hixson.

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KIA DNA Verified
Spouse at enlistment, Helen Lewis
179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division
Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Nearly 70 years after Cecil Harris' death, in mid-May, William Harris received confirmation from the U.S. military that his father's remains had been found in a shallow grave north of Dambach, France.
Harris said his mother and relatives told him about his father and about how he enjoyed things such as farming and hunting and a horse he owned named Strollin' Jim. The Harris family also learned some of the circumstances surrounding Cecil Harris' disappearance. William Harris' daughter, Christie Laws, said that a journal written by one of her grandfather's fellow soldiers indicated that Cecil had gone missing after a battle with German soldiers north of Dambach.

"They were under fire, and Cecil wasn't with them," Laws said. "They didn't get to go back because of a snowstorm."

"We were all humbled by this knowing that we had or they had discovered the possible remains of an American soldier who was missing for almost 70 years," Kerr said. "We were all honored that we could play some small, small role in bringing Cecil Harris home."

Grave found in France after nearly 70 years
Remains of World War II soldier found
Jun. 8, 2014 11:03 PM
Published in the Jackson Sun

Family Members

Gravesite Details
Father: Henry Dennis 1894 - 1960
Mother: Mary G. Harris
Spouse: Helen L.

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  • Created by: searcher
  • Added: 9 Jun 2014
  • Find a Grave Memorial 131091747
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for PFC Cecil Edwin Harris (4 Mar 1925–2 Jan 1945), Find a Grave Memorial no. 131091747, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by searcher (contributor 46856156) .