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A Ranger Who Led the Way!

James F. Harris, B Company, 1st Ranger Battalion
A more elite soldier who arrived by land or sea ... 

 

Ranger James F. Harris

 

On August 24, 2002, the lord called home a great husband, father, friend. James (Jim) Harris, B Company, 1st Battalion Ranger WWll, who gave up his struggle with health and went home to be with his lord.

 

Jim volunteered for the Rangers after listening to one of Col. Darby's "call to arms" speeches at Nemours North Africa, May 1943. From that point on Jim was in the thick of the action.


First stop was Gela Sicily, spearheading the allied invasion. After securing the beachhead from German and Italian counter attacks, the next stop was the mountain high citadel of Butera. After Sicily was in safe hands, the Battalion's next mission was to hit the beaches at Maiori Italy and seize the strategic pass at Chiunzi. While there, holding the pass against constant German attacks, they earned their second Presidential Unit Citation. From there Jim found himself in the cold and as Jim would say "Blasted Mountains of  Venafro, Italy."

The next adventure was coming ashore with the first waves at Anzio Italy. This stop proved to be a disaster for Darby's 1st  and 3rd Battalions, as they were used to expand the allied beachhead. The key objective was the crossroads town of Cisterna. As the men infiltrated through the dark towards their objective, little did they know that their doom was sealed. As the Cisterna disaster unfolded, surrounded and outnumbered by the best German troops in Italy, Jim was captured, as was many of the Rangers' fate. Fortunately, his time under German captivity was short, with Jim dispatching his German guard.


After a few days making his way back to friendly lines, Jim reported for duty and eventually was assigned to Co, 1st Regiment, First Special Service Force. This unit took Jim to new adventures including the invasion of Southern France and eventually to Germany in time to witness the collapse of  Hitler
 

After thirteen years of military service, plus two purple hearts for combat wounds received in WWll, Jim bid farwell to the army and worked for the CSX Railroad till retirement. Never forgeting his love of the Ranger's he always remained active in the Ranger Battalions Association after the war, with approximately 20 years as treasurer of the Ohio Valley Chapter and two years as the National Treasurer.

 

His wife ,Brenda and children, Allona, Pete, Dan, Tina, David, Scotty, Lydia and niece Debra. His friend Patrick and many others wish to say, "He will never be forgotten and will always be our American Hero."

 

Above: Ranger Harris March 1944

after his return from Anzio

 

 

Above Ranger Harris  September 24, 1944

with the First Special Service Force

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Submitted July 2005

by friend Patrick

 

katepatty@aol.com

 

 

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