Harris, James L. (1916–1944)

By: Art Leatherwood

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

James L. Harris, Medal of Honor recipient, was born to Albert Lee and Bessie Harris at Hillsboro, Texas, in 1916. He attended Bynum High School through the tenth grade and was drafted into military service at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in late 1941. He was assigned to the 756th Tank Battalion and trained with it at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Fort Lewis, Washington, Fort Ord, California, and Camp Pickett, Virginia. After fighting through North Africa he earned a battlefield commission on March 26, 1944, as second lieutenant, at the battle of Cassino in southern Italy. On the night of October 7, 1944, near the village of Vagney, France, his tank command was attacked by a German tank and two platoons of infantry. While leading his tanks on foot, he was wounded. From the ground in front of his tank he ordered it to open fire on the Germans, whose progress was halted until more tanks arrived and forced them to withdraw. Subsequently, Harris's leg was shot off at the hip. He refused to be evacuated until other wounded members of his crew were removed. He died before he could be given medical attention. Harris was buried at Vagney, France, until 1951, when he was reinterred at Ridge Park Cemetery, Hillsboro.

Dallas Times Herald, June 11, 1976. Committee on Veterans' Affairs, United States Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863–1973 (Washington: GPO, 1973).
Time Periods:
  • World War II

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Art Leatherwood, “Harris, James L.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/harris-james-l.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995