Remains of fallen WWII hero return to TN 70 years later - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Remains of fallen WWII hero return to TN 70 years later

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Nearly 70 years after a Tennessee soldier went missing in action during World War Two, his family will finally get the closure they've been waiting on.

The remains of Private First Class Cecil Harris were finally discovered and are now being delivered to Chattanooga so his family can say their final goodbyes and lay him to rest with the honor and respect he deserves.  

The remains of fallen hero Cecil Harris will finally return to Tennessee in a few days. He was only 19 years old when his platoon was attacked in France near the German border. That was 1945. No one ever saw him again, until last year when a French hiker spotted a rock with an engraved "H," which turned out to be for "harris" with his remains buried underneath.

"I prayed all those nights. Every night when I said my prayers, I'd pray the Lord would give me something that would provide closure," Helen Cooke said.
      
At 90 years old, Helen Cooke says it's hard to believe that closure is finally coming.

"He said they found Daddy Cecil. Well, I lost it and started screaming," Helen said.

Her first husband, Private First Class Cecil Harris went missing January 2, 1945. His platoon came under attack. When his fellow soldiers regrouped, he wasn't there. His dog tags, then his body were finally found in 2013.

They married in 1942. He was from Shelbyville and she was from Grundy County.

"He was just handsome and was just full of fun," she said.

She still remembers the day he was drafted to serve in World War Two.

"He was in the field working. I went to the mailbox and I got that letter. I even hesitated about giving it to him when he came in for lunch. That night I gave it to him and he said well I've been expecting it," Helen said.

Then, in early 1945 a trip to the post office changed her life forever.

"Went over to the office and got this telegram and I just lost everything in my billfold, my money, just started running and going home," she said.

Now nearly 70 years later, she's thankful her first love is finally coming home, but also nervous about saying that final goodbye.

"It'll be mixed emotion because I'll know that'll be the last time I'll be that close to him. We know where he is. There's closure there, but it'll always be with me," Helen said.

The funeral is next Friday at Red Bank Baptist Church. Harris will then be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. October 22nd.

PFC Harris received several military honors after his death including the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart Medal.
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