21, of Patten, Maine; assigned to the 172nd Brigade Support Battalion, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; killed April 6, 2006 when an improvised device detonated while he was conducting dismounted patrol operations in Bayji, Iraq.
To honor SPC Dustin J. Harris, his parents, Mr. Scott Harris and Mrs. Lorna Harris and his brother, Dylan Harris selected this stone from their family homestead in Patten, Maine. The Harris family found this stone in the potato fields Dustin’s grandfather used to farm on. They chose this particular stone because Dustin and his brother grew up in those fields, picking rocks, picking potatoes, gathering the apples from the near by trees, snowmobiling on these paths, driving the old car and pickup up and down the roads, and playing hide and seek in the pitch black through the trees..
Watch this video to learn why this stone is significant and what it says about SPC Dustin J. Harris.
Spc Dustin Harris
“The Turret Gunner”
Written by Lorna Harris—Proud Gold Star Mother
Dustin was born in Millinocket and raised in Patten, two small rural communities in Maine. He graduated from Katahdin High School in 2002. After graduation he attended Eastern Maine Community College for two years studying diesel mechanics. Dustin grew up surrounded by trucks, tractors and every piece of equipment in-between. Dustin learned to drive both as a son and grandson of a truck driver and potato farmer. Dustin helped out in the truck garage and barn, learning how to mechanic on everything. He enlisted in the US Army in 2004. Even as a young child Dustin dressed in Army clothes and played “Army.” He’d grown up seeing photos and hearing stories of his grandfather and uncle who both had Served.
Spc. Harris was assigned to Fort Wainwright, in Fairbanks, Alaska with the 172nd BSB (Brigade Support Battalion), and 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) as a heavy wheeled vehicle operator. He attended Airborne School at Fort Benning, GA where he qualified as a paratrooper. His awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Parachutist Badge, Combat Action Badge, and Weapons Qualification Badge.
Dustin was deployed to Mosul, Iraq in August of 2005 during Operation Iraqi Freedom in support of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. During his Deployment he demonstrated personal courage by volunteering to lead Re-Supply Missions, through deserts, villages, and cities in northern Iraq, regardless of increment weather or Enemy Threat. He was willing to sacrifice, to endure physical duress, and joining the one percent of America’s ordinary citizens to take a stand for our Freedoms and actively partake in Time of War. As a twenty-one year old Dustin viewed himself as indestructible. He never dwelled on the value of selfless service, the concept of putting the welfare of the Nation, the Army and his subordinates before his own. Little did Dustin realize, his commitment to go a little further, endure a little longer and look closer to see how to add effort, were the basic building blocks of his noble service. His greatest accomplishment was, along with Proudly wearing the Uniform of the US Army, was becoming a Parachutist and referring to himself as “Our Mighty Paratrooper” to his family & friends.
On April 6, 2006 while serving as lead Gunner during a Combat Logistics Patrol Spc. Dustin J. Harris was Killed In Action by an improvised explosive device in Bayji, Iraq. Due to his concern for others Dustin’s chose to always be the Gunner, a true Act of Heroism. He was well aware of the risk that a Turret Gunner faced on any mounted patrol. He continued to volunteer, to assume this risk because he recognized that the rest of the vehicles and Fellow Soldiers in the patrol depended on his mental alertness, judgment and skill to keep the convoy safe. He also volunteered because of his Love of Family, his Band of Brothers. He did not want the soldiers who were married or had children take on that Risk.
“The Strength of a Hero comes from not only their personal values but their upbringing as well. Specialist Dustin J Harris is my American Hero because he served our country without thought of recognition or gain. He is a son who lived the Values of the community of Patten, Maine and our entire Nation. These values were instilled in him by his parents, his brother and grandparents, friends and citizens of Patten.” said Col. William Keyes.