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ET Soldier Returns Home After 69 Years


The remains of PFC Cecil E. Harris came home to East Tennessee Tuesday, nearly 70 years after he was reported missing while fighting in France.

The Shelbyville native was a 19 year-old husband and father at the time of his disappearance.  He was listed among the missing in January 1945 after his rifle platoon was overrun by German forces during the Battle of the Bulge.  The violent offensive was the Germans’ last of the war; they surrendered three months later.

Harris’ remains were discovered in September 2013 by a hiker, who noticed a shallow grave near a rock formation north of Dambach, France.  DNA tests confirmed the remains in the grave were Harris’ and his family was notified in May.

According to his obituary, Harris enjoyed farming, hunting and horses. 

He is survived by his wife Helen Harris Cooke of Chattanooga, his son Edwin Harris of Mountain City, two sisters and several grand- and great-grandchildren.

Harris’ life will be celebrated at the Red Bank Baptist Church in Chattanooga this Friday.  Afterward, his remains will be sent onto Arlington National Cemetery, where he’ll be buried.