Richard G. Harris
Specialist E-5
U. S. Army
Dates of Service: 09/12/1966 - 03/1969
Armored Recon, H Troop, 17th Cav, 198th Light Infantry
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A Shreveport native, Richard is the eldest son of Jesse B. Harris, a farmer and rancher, and Elizabeth Fowler Harris. Unfortunately, his father died in a tractor accident in 1959, leaving Mrs. Harris with five children. A few years later, she married John T. McBride, an accountant for Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation. "He was outstanding. We could not have picked a finer stepfather," Richard recalls. As a lad Richard toiled in hay fields and on the family farm, where his father raised racehorses. After graduating from high school in 1966, he was working at a Pak-n-Sak grocery store when his two younger brothers rode up on their bicycles with his draft notice. "I hated it" he said of basic training and advanced individual training as an armored intelligence specialist at Fort Hood near Killeen, Texas. Richard went to Vietnam in September of 1967 as part of Troop 8, 17th Cavalry, 198h Light Infantry Brigade of the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal). The brigade sailed on the USS Upscher, landed at Da Nang, and then went to Chu Lai, division headquarters. Soon his unit was shipped to LZ Bayonet. "In the four and a half months I was over there with them I want to say we spent probably six or seven nights there at the base camp. The rest of the time we were off out in the woods," he remarks. He also remembers taking only five showers. Troop 8 rode in armored personnel carriers. He called the medic in his unit, Tom Giles, a Morman from Utah and conscientious objector "the best of friends." During a cease-fire his unit was at a village called Lei Tin when it came under an hour-long mortar attack. As part of the infamous 1968 Tet Offensive, a battalion of North Vietnamese Army regulars attacked ten men in two personnel carriers. When Richard was wounded; his friend Giles picked up his M60 and fought back, telling Richard he would help him later. He was hit by fire from an American-made recoilless rifle "that came by way of Cuba." His perimeter was overrun but helicopter gunships arrived and beat the enemy back. Hit in the lower leg, Richard lost four inches of his tibia. In the hospital, he says, he grew back three inches, but still wears a built-up shoe. After remaining a year and a half recuperating in Japan, Fort Polk, and Brooke General Hospital in San Antonio, he was discharged in 1969. He went to work for a pipeline company doing cathartic protection. Later he studied agriculture at Louisiana Tech, where he graduated in 1973. He then began working in offshore drilling. In April of 2001 he married Phyllis Davis. Between them they have seven children and ten grandchildren.