Medal of Honor Citation

for

2nd Lt. James "Red" L. Harris:

2nd Lt. James "Red" L. Harris

(Photo above and citation language below from book:

The History of the Third Infantry Division in World War II

Edited by Donald G. Taggart, page 382)

 

Lieut. James L. Harris, 0-1703032, Company A, 756th Tank Battalion, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, in action involving actual conflict.

 

On 7 October 1944 in Vagney, France, Lieutenant Harris, an M-4 tank platoon leader, drew machine-gun fire upon himself at pointblank range in order to ascertain the location of an enemy tank which threatened to destroy an infantry battalion CP; crawled through devastating enemy fire, while fatally wounded, to direct his tank in an attack, and, though bleeding profusely from a second wound persevered until the enemy withdrew.

 

At 2100 hours, an enemy raiding party, comprising a tank and two platoons of infantry, infiltrated through the lines under cover of mist and darkness and attacked an infantry battalion CP with hand grenades, retiring a short distance to an ambush position on hearing the approach of the M-4 tank commanded by Lieutenant Harris. Realizing the need for for bold, aggressive action, Lieutenant Harris ordered his tank to halt while he proceeded on foot, fully 10 yards ahead of his six-man patrol and armed only with a service pistol to probe the darkness for the enemy.  Although struck down and mortally wounded by machine-gun bullets which penetrated his solar plexus, he crawled back to his tank, leaving a trail of blood behind him, and, too weak to climb inside it, issued fire orders while lying on he road between the two contending armored vehicles. Although the tank which he commanded was destroyed in the course of the fire fight, he stood the enemy off until friendly tanks, preparing to come to his aid, caused the enemy to withdraw and thereby lose an opportunity to kill or capture the entire battalion command personnel.  Suffering a second wound, which severed his leg at the hip, in the course of this duel, Lieutenant Harris refused aid until after a wounded member of his crew had been carried to safety.  He died before he could be given medical attention.

 

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