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For Airborne Paratrooper Combat Infantrymen in all campaigns, there are those who “set the standard” of service, dedication, contribution and heroism. This episode describes the honor given to Darrell G. Harris– a WWII veteran who was a combat infantryman and a paratrooper who served almost 3 years in Europe with the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (also known as “the Devils in Baggy Pants”) of the 82nd Airborne Division.
At Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in the office of LTG William B. Caldwell, IV, who is the Commanding General of US Army North (5th Army), an award and presentation ceremony took place on 13 July 2012.
The other presentations of awards, certificates and achievements came from a variety of Veterans organizations, as well as some from active duty.
Among the Veterans groups represented were:
– The 82nd Airborne Division Association, Alamo Chapter in San Antonio, Texas — Chapter commander Fred Castaneda; chapter Trustees Al Pike and Matt Rayson; and 82nd Airborne Division veteran Dennis Dezso; and 82nd Airborne Division Veteran from the 504th PIR, Jason Savell;
– The Combat Infantryman’s Association — National Commander Bill Cross; and local chapter Commander Tony Martinez of H21 Southern Branch, Division 4;
– The Special Forces Association, Chapter 93 in Waco, Texas — Commander James Savell and Secretary Jon Ker– who delivered to D. G. Harris the presentation of the 1st Annual AL ESSIG AWARD for outstanding service by an Airborne Infantryman to his country;
– The Americal Division Veterans Association — Association Adjutant Roger Gilmore;
– The media (in the form of the PAO of Ft. Sam Houston and the 5th Army or US Army North, as well as the journalists and photographers from the San Antonio Express newspaper.
The Active Duty organizations that also honored D.G. Harris with lifetime achievement awards were:
– The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina — with Major Roger Wang from the unit delivering in person the plaque (since D.G. Harris spent his time with the 82nd Airborne Division in the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment);
– The event host, LTG William B. Caldwell, IV, Commander of US Army North (5th Army), and his administrative officer, Major Crispin Burke from Fort Sam Houston, Texas;
The CIB Association National Commander, Bill Cross, attended the event and presented D. G. Harris with a lifetime membership in the Combat Infantrymen’s Association (previously, D.G. Harris had been a veteran member of the Association since 2008). Bill was assisted in delivering this membership award by Tony Martinez, the Commander of H21 Southern Branch, Austin, Texas Chapter in Division 4.
Right after the presentation of awards to D. G. Harris, the CIB Association National Commander, Bill Cross, made an announcement to the host of the event, LTG Caldwell, that this Active Duty commanding officer will receive a lifetime membership, as well, to the Combat Infantrymen’s Association. LTG Caldwell is also a CIB recipient from his conflicts in Operations Desert Storm, OEF and OIF.
The event also had the attendance of LTG Caldwell’s staff, as they also thanked D. G. Harris for his selfless service. After the presentations were concluded and the press and Media had interviewed the participants and taken photos, the members of the Veterans organizations–along with Major Wang and Major Burke–met at the Drop Zone Cafe right outside Fort Sam Houston for a luncheon meeting and a time to socialize with other guests.
By the way, the Drop Zone Cafe is a shrine of memorabilia and photos that honors the Airborne Soldier — from the 1940 Test Platoon to the present day. At this meeting, the final honors to Darrell G. Harris took place, and many of the attendees were looking to get a copy of his book.
The only sad part on this day was the absence of one of D. G. Harris’s comrade-in-arms, Al Essig, who passed away on 18 June 2012. However, with the Special Forces Association, Chapter 93, Al’s service will be remembered with a yearly presentation of the AL ESSIG AWARD to a deserving Airborne Infantryman.
Our salute to Darrell G. Harris, our chapter hero who set the standard as a Combat Infantryman and Paratrooper of the 82nd Airborne Division.
If you would like to see the photographs from that event, you can go to this site by this link:
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