WWII Veteran finally honored 70 years after death - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

WWII Veteran finally honored 70 years after death

Posted: Updated:
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - The  family of a World War II veteran killed in action finally got to say their goodbyes nearly 70 years after he went missing.

Private First Class Cecil Harris was only 19 years old when his platoon was attacked near the French - German border. His family has received a "missing in action" notice every year since 1945 never knowing if they'd ever get that final moment to say goodbye. Friday was that day.

"It's closure, but it's a sad closure," widow Helen Harris Cooke said.

The body of Pfc Cecil Harris is finally back in Tennessee.

He went missing in action January 2, 1945 after his platoon came under attack. When his fellow soldiers regrouped, he wasn't there. Nearly seven decades later, his body was finally discovered by French hikers near a rock with an engraved cross and "H" for Harris.

"Reminds me of words in the most beloved of hymns, I once was lost but now I'm found," Chaplain Reggie Asplund said.

His wife, Helen, now 90-years-old says she's prayed for closure every night that he's been away from her. Now, she's finally next to him one last time.

"Now we know where he is, there's closure there but it'll always be with me," Helen said.

They presented Helen with the honors Cecil Harris earned for his great sacrifice, the Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals.

"It was really wonderful. He would've been so proud," she said.

Harris was drafted to serve and as he headed off for war told Helen he had a feeling he wouldn't be back. She says she'll never get over the loss, but is thankful she's also able to clearly remember their happy moments together after all these years.

"He sang all the time. He came up the street with two little sticks and he'd beat those sticks together coming up through there signing. I can remember that real good," Helen said.

Cecil Harris will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. October 22nd. Governor Haslam has declared a day of mourning and ordered flags at half-staff that day.

Powered by Frankly