Harris, Cecil Elwyn, CAPT

Deceased
 
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Last Rank
Captain
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1965-1967, Director Air Warfare, CNO - OPNAV
Service Years
1941 - 1967
Captain
Captain

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

26 kb

Home State
South Dakota
South Dakota
Year of Birth
1916
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Cory Butterfield, AO1 to remember Harris, Cecil Elwyn (Cece), CAPT.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Cresbard, SD
Last Address
Groveton, VA

Date of Passing
Dec 02, 1981
 
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
66 820

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 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

During WWII, Cecil Harris became an Ace pilot and was regarded as the second most prolific Navy fighter pilot with 24 kills. As a member of the United States Naval Reserve, Cecil Harris's commission ended with the War. Upon returning home he picked up where he left off previously, completing his undergraduate degree at Northern State Teachers College. He began teaching at Cresbard High School where he functioned variously as principal, coach and teacher. He returned to active duty during the Korean War and became a career Navy officer, serving 27 years before retiring in 1967.

Harris was driving his truck home on the evening of
December 1, 1981, when he was pulled over by police. Though no bottles or cans were reportedly found in the vehicle, a Breathalyzer test returned a blood alcohol reading of .16, leading to his arrest. Harris told an arresting officer at the scene that "if he failed the test, that was the end of his life." Family members went to the Groveton, Virginia jail where Harris was being held and attempted to have him released into their custody. Their request was denied by a local magistrate. Just past midnight on December 2 Cecil Harris was found dead in his cell, apparently having hanged himself in the interim. It was his 65th birthday.
   
Other Comments:

Navy Cross
Awarded for Actions During World War II
Service: Navy
Battalion: Fighting Squadron 18 (VF-18)
Division: U.S.S. Intrepid (CV-11)
General Orders: Commander 2d Carrier Task Force, Serial 0396 (
December 15, 1944)
Citation: The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Cecil Elwood Harris (NSN: 0-114286), United States Naval Reserve, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron EIGHTEEN (VF-18), attached to the U.S.S. INTREPID (CV-11), in action against enemy Japanese forces on Luzon, Philippine Islands, on 29 October 1944. Quick to intercept two successive flights of Japanese fighter planes preparing to attack our bomber and torpedo squadrons as they completed a strike on Clark Field, Lieutenant Harris boldly led his Division in a swift assault on the enemy planes. Skillfully and daringly maneuvering among the hostile formations, he shot down one enemy plane from each flight and put the others to rout. Quick to intercept a superior force of enemy fighters descending in waves in furious attempts to wipe out our fighter protection, he dauntlessly engaged in the fierce dog fight which ensued. Successively knocking down two enemy planes closing two of our Hellcats whose pilots were unaware of their imminent peril, he effectively averted the certain destruction of these friendly planes and assisted essentially in the utter defeat of the entire enemy formation without the loss of any of our planes from enemy action. By his courageous initiative, superb airmanship and fearless devotion to the fulfillment of a hazardous mission, Lieutenant Harris contributed materially to the success of our operations in this strategic area, and his personal valor in the face of grave peril upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

 
   
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 Duty Stations
US NavySchool Assignments - StaffUSS Intrepid (CV-11)NAS Memphis
NAS PensacolaDirector Air Warfare, CNO - OPNAV
  1942-1942, USS Charger (ACV-30)
  1942-1942, Primary Flight Training, NAS Corpus Cristi, TX
  1942-1942, USS Charger (ACV-30)
  1942-1943, USS Suwanee (CVE-27)
  1944-1945, USS Intrepid (CV-11)
  1951-1951, NAS Memphis
  1951-1952, NAS Pensacola
  1952-1953, Director Air Warfare, CNO - OPNAV
  1965-1967, Director Air Warfare, CNO - OPNAV
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1942 Algeria-French Morocco Campaign (1942)/Operation Torch
  1944-1944 Western Caroline Islands Operation/Battle of Peleliu
  1944-1944 Mariana and Palau Islands Campaign (1944)/Battle of Angaur
  1944-1944 Asiatic-Pacific Specified Raids (1944)/Formosa Air Battle
  1944-1944 Leyte Campaign (1944)/Battle of Leyte Gulf
 Colleges Attended 
Northern State UniversityNorthern State University
  1934-1935, Northern State University
  1940-1941, Northern State University
 Other News, Events and Photographs
 
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 Military Association Memberships
United States Navy Memorial
  2019, United States Navy Memorial - Assoc. Page
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