- Albert T. Harris
Infobox Military Person
name = Albert Thomas Harris
born = birth date|1915|8|29
died = death date and age|1942|11|12|1915|8|29
placeofdeath = at sea
allegiance = United States of America
serviceyears = 1940–1942
Lieutenant (junior grade)
United States Naval Reserve
unit = "San Francisco" (CA-38)
World War II* Guadalcanal campaign
Albert Thomas Harris (
August 29, 1915- November 12, 1942) was a lieutenant in the Naval Reservewho served during World War II. Lt. (jg) Harris was a posthumous recipient of the Navy Cross.
Early Life and Military Training
Madison, Georgia, Harris attended North Georgia Collegeand the University of Georgiabefore enlisting in the Naval Reserveon September 10, 1940. After a period of training, some of which he spent in the battleship "New York (BB-34)", he was discharged on June 15, 1941, to accept an appointment as a midshipman in the Naval Reserve the following day. After receiving training at the Naval Reserve Midshipman's School at Northwestern University, he was commissioned an ensign in the Naval Reserve on September 12, 1941.
Following instruction in communications, Harris was assigned to the 12th Naval District temporarily on
November 15, 1941, where he awaited transfer to the heavy cruiser "San Francisco (CA-38)". He reported for duty on board that ship at Pearl Harboron the afternoon of January 6, 1942.
Two days after he reported, his ship sailed with Task Force (TF) 8 as part of the force covering the movement of marines to
Samoa. Detached from TF 8 to provide local cover for the newly arrived forces at Tutuila, "San Francisco" then rejoined her old division, Cruiser Division 6, part of TF 11, soon after clearing Samoan waters on February 8. Ens. Harris saw his first action on February 20, 1942, when "San Francisco" screened the aircraft carrier "Lexington (CV-2)" as TF 11 battled Japanese land-based bombers off Bougainville, in the Northern Solomons. "San Francisco" received credit for downing one of the attacking aircraft.
March 10, 1942, the heavy cruiser stood ready to protect "Lexington", as that carrier, and "Yorktown (CV-5)", launched a successful surprise attack on enemy shipping off the New Guineasettlements of Laeand Salamaua. In the spring of 1942, Ens. Harris' ship escorted convoys between the United States, Hawaii, Australiaand the Fiji Islands.
After seeing a convoy safely to Fiji in July, "San Francisco" joined the expeditionary force bound for the Solomon Islands, in the initial assault phase of "Operation Watchtower", the invasion of
Guadalcanal. His ship covered the landings on August 7, and, following a logistics period at Nouméa, New Caledonia, covered a supply convoy to Guadalcanal. During the latter movement, he witnessed the loss of the carrier "Wasp (CV-7)" on September 15. He took part on the Battle of Cape Esperanceon the night of October 11 and 12, and participated in the shelling of Japanese supply and ammunition dumps at Koli Point on November 4.
Newly promoted Lt. (jg.) Harris saw his last action on the afternoon of
November 12, 1942, when 21 Japanese twin-engined torpedo planes (Mitsubishi G4M1 "Betties") attacked "San Francisco"'s task group near Lunga Point. While commanding the antiaircraftbattery on the aft machine gun platform, he directed the fire of his 20-millimeter guns on an approaching Japanese torpedo plane that had been set afire by gunfire from the nearby transport "McCawley (AP—10)". Maintaining a heavy fire until the "Betty" crashed into them, Harris and three of his gun crews died in the fiery crash.
Herbert E. Schonland, who took command of the heavy cruiser after Captain Cassin Youngdied of wounds suffered in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, praised "the remarkable fire discipline and courage" of Harris and his men. "They met their deaths without flinching," Schonland wrote, "and in a manner which has been an inspiration to us all."
Lt. (jg.) Harris was awarded the
"Albert T. Harris" (DE-447) was laid down on
13 January 1944at Newark, New Jersey, by the Federal Shipbuilding & DrydockCo.; launched on 16 April 1944; sponsored by Mrs. J. D. Harris, the mother of "Lt. (jg.) Harris"; and was commissioned on 29 November 1944at the New York Navy Yard, Lt. Comdr. Sidney King in command.
* [http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/escorts/de447.htm Albert Thomas Harris]
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