James F. Harris
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
Ranger Harris March 1944
his return from Anzio
Ranger Harris September 24, 1944
First Special Service Force
Submitted July 2005