Thursday, March 15, 2007

Army Staff Sgt. Blake M. Harris

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Blake M. Harris, 27, of Hampton, Ga.

SSgt. Harris was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died March 15 in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit during combat operations. Also killed were Army Staff Sgt. Terry W. Prater, Army Sgt. Emerson N. Brand and Army Pfc. James L. Arnold.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Perhaps it was Staff Sgt. Blake Harris' infectious smile and dimples that caught his future wife's attention.

Or maybe it was his sense of humor.

"You couldn't help but love him," Brandy Harris said of her husband of 2 1/2 years.

The two were looking forward to being together this summer, when Harris was scheduled to come home from Iraq for a two-week visit with his wife and son, Tyrus, 6.

Last week, Harris became one of four soldiers with Georgia ties to die in Iraq, raising the number of Georgia armed forces members killed to 94. As the war begins its fifth year, marked this weekend by protests in Washington and around the country, the Defense Department said 3,208 members of the U.S. military had died as of Friday. Of those, 2,581 were killed in action.

Army Cpl. Brian L. Chevalier, 21, of Athens died Wednesday in Mufrek from an improvised explosive device.

Spc. Forrest J. Waterbury, 25, of the 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Stewart, died in combat Wednesday, according to the Defense Department. Waterbury lived in Richmond, Texas.

Spc. Jonathan K. Smith, 19, of Atlanta, died last Sunday of noncombat related injuries.

Harris, 27, who grew up in Hampton, died Thursday in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit, according to the Department of Defense. He was on his second tour of duty in Iraq and had served in Afghanistan, his mother said.

Three other members of Harris' unit — the 1st Squadron, 8th Calvary Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division out of Fort Hood, Texas — also died in the blast.

Harris' family hopes to plan funeral services and burial at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. A memorial service has been scheduled for Friday at First Baptist Church of Jonesboro.

"The only thing he really wanted to do was come home to his family," his wife said. "He was such a family-oriented guy."

In a telephone interview from the couple's home in Belton, Texas, Brandy Harris recalled meeting her husband on a volleyball court. Both were competitive, but Blake "talked so much trash, he got on my nerves," she said laughing.

She last talked to him a few days before he died.

They talked about Tyrus playing soccer, a passion of Blake's. She said her husband one day hoped for a career as a pilot or in law enforcement.

Blake Harris graduated from Lovejoy High School and left a week later for Army basic training, said his sister, Holli Harris-Bynum, who lives in Georgia.

Harris was the "class clown and the family clown," said his mother, Anne Harris of Royston. "He was always into some kind of devilment."

His father, Paul D. Harris, called his son a dedicated soldier.

"He said he knew what he was getting into when he signed up," said the elder Harris. "He was very concerned about [the safety of] his guys. He said some of the guys had never been in combat before."

But he said his son said he couldn't worry too much. "He said when my time is up, I can be home or over there. I just have to do my duty and not worry."

Army Staff Sgt. Blake M. Harris was killed in action on 03/15/07.

No comments: