|From The Dispatch the-dispatch.com
Local Navy SEAL dies in combat
By Deneesha Edwards
Published: Monday, September 1, 2008 at 8:38 p.m
A Lexington family and the community are mourning the loss of a United States Navy SEAL who was killed Saturday.
Petty Officer First Class SEAL Joshua Thomas Harris, 36, drowned after being swept away by turbulent waters while conducting a river crossing during combat operations in Afghanistan, according to a Navy press release. Harris, a special Warfare Operator First Class SEAL, was temporarily deployed to Afghanistan from his assignment at Naval Special Warfare Development Group in Virginia Beach.
“Petty Officer Harris was an exemplary SEAL. He served his country valorously during multiple combat tours to Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Capt. Scott Moore, commanding officer of NSWDG, in a press release. “He was a brave warrior, SEAL role model, mature and reliable teammate and an absolute great American. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Petty Officer Harris’ family. His loss is deeply felt by the entire Naval Special Warfare community.”
Harris is a 1990 graduate of Lexington Senior High School, where he was an all-county and all-conference football player. He also graduated from Davidson College in 1994 with a degree in studio art and pursued a master’s degree in architecture from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Harris’ artwork has been on display at several shows on the East Coast including the Lincoln Center in New York City.
Robin Team, a friend of Harris' parents, Dr. Sam and Evelyn Harris, was with the family at their Lexington home Monday night.
“Josh was a wonderful young man who had talent in many different areas,” Team said. “He was a very accomplished artist.
“Josh wanted to serve his country, and he died doing exactly what he wanted to do, and that is defending his country. We all honor Josh’s memory as a true patriot of the United States.”
Harris enlisted in the Navy in August 2000 and reported to Boot Camp at Naval Recruiting Training Command in Great Lakes, Ill., a month later. After completion he graduated from Quartermaster “A” School before reporting to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training at Coronado, Calif., which is the first step to becoming a U.S. Navy SEAL and is six months of the most demanding training in the military, according to the press release. The release also said upon graduating from BUD/S Harris completed an additional five months of SEAL Qualification Training before reporting to his first permanent duty station at SEAL Team Ten at Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, Va.
While onboard SEAL Team Ten, Harris completed many rigorous qualifications preparing him for combat including Static Line Parachutist, Naval Special Warfare Special Reconnaissance Scout, Naval Special Warfare Sniper, SEAL Diving Supervisor, Advanced Tactical Driving course and others, the release said. Harris distinguished himself during multiple combat deployments to Iraq with SEAL Team Ten while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to the press release.
In May 2006 he transferred from the SEAL Team Ten and began the selection and training program at Naval Special Warfare Development Group. Naval Special Warfare Command is the Navy component of U.S. Special Operations Command and the special operations component of the U.S. Navy. Harris’ training included Military Free-Fall, Naval Special Warfare Tactical First Response Medical Training, Survive Escape Resist Evade 215 and 250 courses, Combat Pistol and Rifle Course for example. Harris completed the training during the selection program and received orders to Naval Special Warfare Development Group as a member of Naval Special Warfare Tactical Development and Evaluation Squadron Two.
“The entire Naval Special Warfare community is deeply saddened by the passing of our teammate, Petty Officer Josh Harris,” said Rear Admiral Garry Bonelli, commanding officer of Naval Special Warfare Command. “He will always be remembered as a warrior, a leader and a patriot. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends during this extremely difficult time.”
Harris received numerous awards during his career as a U.S. Navy SEAL including the Bronze Star Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal with Combat “V” (Valor) Distinguishing Device, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat “V” (Valor) Distinguishing Device, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon (Operation Iraqi Freedom), Combat Action Ribbon (Operation Enduring Freedom), Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Iraq Campaign Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbons and Good Conduct Medals.
Harris is survived by his parents; a twin sister, Kiki Harris; a brother, S. Ranchor Harris III and his wife, Serina; two nephews, Dylan and Chase; and aunts and uncles Thomas Veach and Sveta Long, Penny and Randy Overby, and Tom and Maria Harris.