Soldier remembered for devotion, humor

Soldier remembered for devotion, humor
By Denise Adams Wednesday, May 16, 2007 1:13 PM CDT

Graham Harris loved music, especially playing the trombone, beginning when he was a teen at First Colony Middle School. The young man with a constant smile was a tenacious lacrosse player for the Clements Rangers, his sense of humor endearing him to his family and his friends.

He was also a defender of freedom in the Middle East. On Thursday, May 3, while on duty in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Pfc. Joseph Graham Harris, U.S. Army, was killed in action. He was 19 years old.

His father, Gary Harris, said Graham was a young man who was well loved.

“He really enjoyed making people laugh and having a good time,” he said. “Everyone who knew Graham liked Graham. Everyone who knew him well loved him.”

Born in Arkansas, Harris moved with his family to Sugar Land, where he attended Settlers Way Elementary and First Colony Middle School.

In 2001, he moved to San Antonio and attended Churchill High School. He later returned to Sugar Land and graduated from Houston Learning Academy.

Harris was a member of First United Methodist Church in Sugar Land, and he was active in all youth programs at the church, said his father, his sense of humor endearing him to his many friends.

Harris also attended classes at Wharton County Junior College in Sugar Land but decided to join the U.S. Army in early 2006.

He graduated Infantry and then Airborne training at Fort Benning, Ga., in December 2006. After graduation, Harris was assigned to the 82nd Airborne – the “All Americans” – at Fort Bragg, N.C. He was deployed Feb. 12 to Forward Operating Base Warrior in Afghanistan, and he was killed while on guard duty a month later, 23 days before his 20th birthday.

“Graham was a devoted son, an adored brother and committed friend to many. His handsome face, warm smile and irrepressible sense of humor will never be forgotten,” said his father.

Harris was posthumously awarded the Good Conduct Medal, the prestigious Purple Heart, the NATO Service award and the Patriot award from the city of San Antonio.

A memorial service was held Friday, May 11, at The Settegast-Kopf Co. Funeral Directors in Sugar Land, and a graveside service with full military honors was held Saturday, May 12, at National Veterans Cemetery at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.

Harris is survived by his father and stepmother, Gary and Gretchen Harris of Sugar Land; his mother, Jean Anne Harris; sisters, Amy Harris and Kelsey Castro; grandparents, Gary and Lynda Harris, and Sara Harris; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

The family requested that donations be made to the American Red Cross in Harris’ memory. The Ranger Lacrosse team plans to retire Harris’ number