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Hump Pilot retells World War II stories

By LINDA DENG and ZHANG YUAN in Seattle | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-03-17 16:35
Harris in Oxnard, California in 1943 before he was deployed to India. Harris’ wife Bernice passed away in July 2016. They were married 73 years. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Harris, a Catholic, carried rosary beads with him on every trip.

Sometimes, Harris carried Chinese troops.

"They just sat on the floor and they had no oxygen masks. We got up to high altitude at 10,000 feet. The conversation in the back just sort of stopped. A lot of them went to sleep. Very few died. It was not a pleasant journey for them," Harris told China Daily.

Harris was a member of the The Hump Pilot Association, which held its first meeting in 1947. After nearly 60 years of activities, the association's board of directors voted on Sept 28, 2005, in Nashville, Tennessee, to dissolve the association at the end of that year due to the advancing age of its members.

In April last year, Harris flew to Washington DC with the Honor Flight program and attended World War II memorials. There were 23 veterans from the Northwest, and Harris was the only pilot.

When the war was over, Harris flew from Kolkata, India to Shanghai, which he said was quite an experience.

Discharged from the Army, Harris studied law and became a lawyer and served as an assistant US attorney in Seattle. He was the special deputy prosecutor for the county, served as a judge for three years in Seattle Municipal Court and practiced law for 52 years.

His son Tracy Harris said his father seldom spoke of his war experiences, and that was the way of their generation.

"Thanks to the Lord I have 73 years and more of a good marriage, wonderful children, two sons and three daughters," Harris said, adding that he's had a wonderful life.

Today Harris can still drive his car and ride a tricycle.

"But I am not sure if I can fly an airplane again," he said with a smile.

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