World War II soldier welcomed home 69 years after his death - FOX Carolina 21

World War II soldier welcomed home 69 years after his death

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Private First Class Cecil Harris was 19 years old when he went to France to fight in World War II. A few months later, he was killed in Dambach, France.  For almost 7 decades, his only surviving son, Edwin Harris, wondered what happened to his father. Private First Class Cecil Harris was 19 years old when he went to France to fight in World War II. A few months later, he was killed in Dambach, France. For almost 7 decades, his only surviving son, Edwin Harris, wondered what happened to his father.
MOUNTAIN CITY, TN (WJHL) - Update:

Family members of Cecil Harris gathered Thursday in Mountain City with members of the veteran's group Rolling Thunder for a repatriation ceremony in honor of the soldier killed in World War 2.

Hikers recently found his remains in France.

For Harris' family, the discovery provided an answer to an almost 70 year old question: what happened to their loved one?   And the repatriation ceremony provided an opportunity to officially welcome him home.

News Channel 11's Aniseh Hamour was at the ceremony.  Click here to read the report. 



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69 years after their family member was classified as missing in action in France, a family in Mountain City, TN will get closure.

Private First Class Cecil Harris was 19 years old when he went to France to fight in World War II. A few months later, he was killed in Dambach, France.

For almost 7 decades, his only surviving son wondered what happened to his father.  Edwin Harris met his father for the first and only time in the summer of 1944, when he was a newborn.

"I just knew he liked to hunt, [he] liked to ride horses,  and [he] liked to farm. I was kind of like him. I like to do the same things he liked to do," said Edwin.

Harris's father, Cecil, fought in World War II that summer of 1944. 

"My dad [was] killed when I was four months old. I thought about it all the time. 'Whatever happened to him?'Only thing that I knew is that he was an ammunition carrier. He [was] killed and was missing in action. They never did found him. 69 years he was missing," said Edwin. 

In 2013, two curious hikers found a skull while hiking in Dambach, France.

"They got in touch with the authorities and they came in and started checking around and excavating and found the rest of his bones. They found his dog tags and his name," said Edwin. "They don't know if the Americans buried him or the Germans buried him.” 

"The hikers [who] found Cecil have just been amazing. They were there from day one. They treated him with respect. If it wasn't for them, none of it would've happened," said Cecil Harris’ granddaughter Christie Laws.

"I just have the joy of knowing that he's back. I'm going to get to bury him at Arlington National Cemetery and honor him like he should be," said Edwin.

The remains of  Pvt. 1st Class Cecil Harris is at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. On August 29th, the Army will fly Harris to Chattanooga, TN.

Then on October 22nd,  Pvt. 1st. Class Harris will go to his final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery.

Rolling Thunder will hold a memorial service honoring Cecil Harris Thursday afternoon at 4:00. The ceremony will take place at the Tennessee National Guard Armory in Mountain City, TN.

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