Bill Harris, who scored 16 confirmed aerial victories against Japanese airplanes during World War II, died last month at age 96 in Midland, Ore., reported the Herald and News of Klamath Falls, Ore. Harris suffered from advanced Alzheimer’s disease and had lapsed into a coma prior to his May 23 death, according to the newspaper’s report two days later. “What people don’t know about Bill is that, more so than what he did in the war, he was just a fine man,” said Col. Curtis Waite, president of the Air Force Association’s chapter in southern Oregon named in honor of Harris. According to a tribute in the Herald and News, Harris enlisted in the Navy in 1936. After World War II broke out, he joined the Army Air Corps, flying the P-38 Lightning in the Pacific theater. When the war ended, Harris, then a lieutenant colonel, returned to civilian life as a rancher and entrepreneur. In his later years, he remained a presence at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, offering wisdom to members of the Oregon Air National Guard’s 173rd Fighter Wing, according to the newspaper.
April 13, 2021