Shelbyville Soldier’s Remains Return 70 Years After He Went Missing

PFC Cecil Harris was 19 when he went missing near the French/German border in World War II. Credit: TNVA

PFC Cecil Harris was 19 when he went missing near the French/German border in World War II. Credit: TNVA

The remains of Private First Class Cecil Harris were found last year by a French national under a large rock with a crudely engraved “H” on it. U.S. officials excavated the burial site on hilltop near the French/German border and found Harris’ dog tags.

Harris was just 19 when he went missing in action during World War II. His platoon came under attack and had to make a hasty withdrawal, according to a release from the Tennessee Department of Veterans. When unit regrouped, Harris was gone.

A funeral service is scheduled for Friday near Chattanooga, where his former wife, Helen Cooke, lives. Harris is also survived by son William Edwin Harris of Mountain City and sister Janice Carlton of Shelbyville.

The remains will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Harris has posthumously received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

“Although it is difficult to reach such a somber conclusion, we are grateful the Harris family will have some closure regarding our fallen hero,” Tennessee Veterans Affairs commissioner Many-Bears Grinder said in a statement. “PFC Cecil Harris deserves our recognition, respect and commitment to remember his service to our country and state.”

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