Jack Harris, a true American hero, died on March 6th, 2020. He was born August 17th, 1926 and grew up on a ranch in eastern Oregon during the great depression. He raised “bummer” lambs to help support his family, bottle feeding the rejected animals and selling them back to farmers. He sold newspapers, worked as a busboy; a variety of jobs to get by, and when World War 2 started, he worked in a shipyard in Portland before finally becoming old enough to join the military. He was ready to invade Japan when the atomic bomb ended the war.
The Marine Corps sent him to the University of New Mexico for officer training where he met his 1st wife Peggy. He became the 1st student to graduate directly from flight training into jet school. He joined Marine Fighter Squadron 223 which had the first F9F Panther jets.
He deployed to Korea in 1951 and fought 87 combat missions, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and 4 Air Medals, and was flying one of those missions when his first son Paul Harris was born. His squadron received the news through the Red Cross and when he landed there was a sign in the ready room saying: IT’S A BOY!
Jack came home to the US, qualified as a night fighter, then returned for a second tour of duty in Korea. After the cease fire, Jack served with the British Royal Navy on their carrier-based night fighter sqdn and had over 100 carrier based landings on the HMS “Bulwark.” They sailed around the world with stops in England,Nova Scotia, Africa, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, etc. His second son Elliot was born
while he was away.
Jack was commanding the first amphibious Marine landing in VietNam, flew many missions there, earned another Distinguished Flying Cross and eventually retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Upon retiring, he began working at UCSB running the extension program for the University of California, advising special districts throughout California how to manage their government agencies. He took that experience and became successful in his private consulting business.
It was at UCSB that he met Betty Howson, his second wife and expanded his family to include the Howsons: Beth, Paul and Steve. He lived a life of innumerable adventures, but rarely spoke of them. Many of his experiences are known only to God now.
He is survived by many grateful children and grandchildren who are proud to be associated with this extraordinary warrior, patriot and statesman. May he rest in peace.