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09-22-06, 05:55 AM #1yellowwingGuest Free Member
Missing Vietnam Marine finally honored
'Missing' Vietnam Marine finally honored
The Gazette Staff
22 September 2006
More than 39 years after he was listed as missing but presumed killed in action in Vietnam, a Chillicothe native will be honored at a memorial service next week.
Pfc. Paul W. Harris, a 1965 graduate of CHS, will be honored at a 10 a.m. public service on Saturday, Sept. 30, at Greenlawn Cemetery in Chillicothe. Among the speakers at the service - hosted by Harris' graduating class - will be 2nd Lt. Robert Swete, who survived the crash that killed Harris and three others.
Harris, the son of Clyde and Elsie M. Breckenridge Harris of Chillicothe, is believed to have died in South Vietnam on March 13, 1967, when the Marine helicopter in which he was traveling came under enemy fire.
According to an account of the incident compiled by Task Force Omega Inc., the Sikorsky UH34D Seahorse in which Harris was riding approached its designated landing zone to extract a reconnaissance team deep in Viet Cong territory when, as it touched down, it suffered several hits. The pilot immediately lifted back off while Harris and Lance Cpl. Virgil Terwilliger returned fire. Remaining under intense ground fire, the helicopter lost power and crashed into the trees.
Swete and the aircraft commander, Major Peter Samaras, were able to escape the wreckage, but Terwilliger and Harris were trapped inside when the aircraft exploded.
Due to the condition of the wreckage, the remains of Harris and Terwilliger were unable to be recovered. Samaras and Swete suffered burns and were rescued a day after the crash. The pilot died six days after the incident.
The memorial service Saturday will also include a presentation of medals, including the Purple Heart. Lima Company of the U.S. Marine Corps will perform military honors.
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