Sunday, 14 August 2022

James 'Jim' Harris, 1924-2011

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James “Jim” Harris of Lucerne, Calif., died Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011. He was 86. Photo courtesy of Ginny Craven.


James D. “Jim” Harris, 86, died Saturday, Jan. 8, at his home in Lucerne, Calif.

 

The celebration of his life will be at the Lucerne Community Church on Thursday, Jan. 13, at 1 p.m.

 

Jim was born on Nov. 2, 1924, to Ralph and Katie Harris in Los Angeles. His family later moved to the Oakland area and then to New Orleans, La. when he was in his early teens.

 

After working on a fishing fleet he joined the US Navy in 1940 while not yet 16, which took him back to California at San Diego for his training which included sonar school. He was assigned to the USS Ellet, a very fast destroyer, which was soon sent to Pearl Harbor with most of the Pacific fleet.

 

Jim was assigned to the Admiral’s Flag Allowance aboard the destroyer tender USS Dobbin at Pearl Harbor where he was at the time of the Japanese attack. He told the stories of his experiences that day, most of which was spent on a barge attempting to pull the living and the deceased oil soaked sailors out of the bay, all this after having just turned 17 years old.

 

Following Pearl Harbor Jim was assigned to the destroyer USS Stewart where he saw many battles in the South Pacific until he was blown off the bridge of his ship in the Battle of Badung Strait in February 1942. He was picked up by a Dutch PBY seaplane and transported to a hospital in nearby Surabaya which was being invaded from the north by the Japanese.

 

After being warned, he and others who were ambulatory went down to the water and secured a launch and traveled by night along the shore until they happened upon an American destroyer, the USS John D Ford, which proceeded to convoy escort duty along the Australian coast and then eventually to Pearl Harbor on June 2.

 

Next, Jim was assigned to the destroyer USS McCook and duty in the Mediterranean and later England in preparation for the Normandy invasion. He was at the helm off Omaha Beach on D-day morning when the McCook allowed the landing of the second wave of troops there by taking out enemy gun and machine gun emplacements as well as tiger tanks all of which were killing our troops as they hit the beach.

 

After the war Jim started his career in life insurance in the Bay Area eventually working his way up to general agent for the American National Life Insurance Co. On April 6, 1950 he married the love of his life, Helen, celebrating 60 years together last year.

 

In 1967 Jim and Helen moved to Lake County where he started Gypsy Lure & Tackle delivering as far as Eureka and up to Redding, retiring in 2008.

 

Since moving to Lake County, Jim Harris was active in numerous veterans’ organizations including Disabled American Veterans, VFW, and the United Veterans’ Council, but was most involved with the local Pearl Harbor Survivors Association chapter where he served as president.

 

He has been their inspiration, their spark, their leader and the motivation behind such projects as the Pearl Harbor Survivors’ Memorial Mast at Library Park in Lakeport, which Jim was proud to say was designed by his brother Leon Harris.

 

Jim was also the expert on military protocol as he knew all the rules on such subjects as the proper display of flags, etc.

 

Jim Harris is predeceased in 2001 by his daughter, Diane, and is survived by his dear wife Helen, his brother Leon Harris and family of Washington state, and Robert Lewis and family of Delmar, Cal.

 

Much has been said here about what Jim has done during his long and active life but it would only be fitting to mention here as well that Jim Harris was an honest, fair, hard-working, giving and loving individual who enhanced the lives of all who were lucky enough to have known him. He was a good guy.

 

Donations can be made in Jim’s memory by contacting Janeane Bogner, 707-998-3280. Proceeds will go toward the future maintenance of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Memorial Mast, which is Jim’s proudest legacy.

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