In late October 2009, NVC received a telephone call asking if an Admiral Harris could take a tour of the newly renovated NVC Hall. I wasn’t certain why an Admiral Harris would want to visit NVC, but I assumed that he would have to be briefed on the history of the 442nd RCT. Later the next day, I received a call and was informed that Adm. Harris’ mother was Japanese.
We immediately gathered a group of Nisei veterans and members to greet Admiral Harris, who I believe was a Rear Admiral (two stars) at that time. He did not wear his rank on his uniform.
We also learned that he had just assumed command of the US 6th Fleet and the Striking and Support Forces NATO, both headquartered in Naples, Italy. May Sasaki quickly ordered a cake to help Adm. Harris celebrate his promotion. A group of about 15 veterans met the Admiral at the NVC Hall. Adm. Harris was very gracious and the veterans enjoyed the afternoon talking with him and his assistant. He mentioned how the legacy of the Nisei veteran had assisted his career. The cake was good too!
NVC Foundation was in the fundraising campaign for our Memorial Wall and we explained the purpose of the Wall. He immediately asked his assistant for his check book and purchased a brick. It is located at column 11, row 16.
As a result of his brick purchase, Adm. Harris automatically received a year subscription to the NVC Newsletter. A few years later, I was surprised to see a change of address for Adm. Harris to Honolulu. He had been assigned as the commander of the US Pacific Fleet based at Pearl Harbor.
On September 22, 2014, Secretary of Defense Hagel announced that President Obama had nominated Harry B. Harris Jr. for the reappointment to the rank of admiral (4 stars) and for assignment as commander of the US Pacific Command, based in Honolulu. So the position commanded in 1942 by Admiral Chester Nimitz was now under the command of Japanese American Admiral Harris B. Harris Jr.
Late last year, I received an e-mail asking if Adm. Harris had paid his 2016 NVC dues and amount of the membership fee. A check of our records indicated that his dues had not been paid. I replied by e-mail that his membership dues had not been paid, and our Life Membership was only $150. A few weeks later, Louise Kashino informed me that we had received his $150 Life Membership payment.
Admiral Harris is the first Asian-American to achieve the rank of Admiral in the U.S. Navy, the highest-ranking Japanese American. And we are very proud to claim him as a Life Member.
Biography of Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr. (from US Navy):
He was born in Yokosuka, Japan in 1956. His father was a U.S. Navy chief petty officer and his mother was Japanese. After his family's return to the United States, Harris grew up in Tennessee and Florida, where he attended local public schools.
Following graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1978 and designation as a naval flight officer, he was assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 44. His subsequent operational tours include tactical action officer aboard USS Saratoga (CV 60); operations officer in Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 at Barbers Point, Hawaii; three tours with Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1 at Kami Seya, Japan; director of operations for U.S. 5th Fleet at Manama, Bahrain; and director of operations for U.S. Southern Command.
Harris commanded Patrol Squadron (VP) 46, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1, Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, the U.S. 6th Fleet, Striking and Support Forces NATO, and the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Harris has served in every geographic combatant command region, and participated in the following major operations: S.S. Achille Lauro terrorist hijacking incident, Attain Document III (Libya, 1986), Earnest Will (Kuwaiti reflagged tanker ops, 1987-88), Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Willing Spirit (Colombia hostage rescue, 2006-7) and Odyssey Dawn (Libya, 2011). For Odyssey Dawn, he served as the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander afloat.
Harris’ graduate education focused on East Asia security. He attended Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, and Oxford University. He was a MIT Seminar 21 fellow.
Harris’ staff assignments include aide to commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan; chief speechwriter for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS); and three tours on the Navy Staff, including as an action officer in the Strategic Concepts Branch, director for the current operations and anti-terrorism/force protection division, and deputy chief of naval operations (CNO) for Communication Networks (OPNAV N6).
In October 2011, he was assigned as the assistant to the CJCS where he served as the Chairman’s direct representative to the secretary of state and as the U.S. roadmap monitor for the Mid-East Peace Process. Harris was promoted to Admiral and assumed command of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in October 2013. He was designated as the Theater Joint Force Maritime Component commander. In May 2015, he assumed command of the U.S. Pacific Command.
Harris has logged 4,400 flight hours, including more than 400 combat hours, in maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. His personal decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal (2 awards), Defense Superior Service Medal (3 awards), Legion of Merit (3 awards), the Bronze Star (2 awards), the Air Medal (1 strike/flight), and the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award. He is a recipient of the Navy League’s Stephen Decatur, the CIA’s Agency Seal Medal, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and APAICS Lifetime Achievement awards.