36th Armored Infantry Regiment
Staff Sergeant Roland W. Harris
From Dale Harris, son of Roland Harris: "...My dad was S/Sgt. Roland W. Harris. He was mistakenly listed as "Ronald W. Harris", in the 1945 "Personnel Directory".
His unit was 1st Rifle Squad, 1st Platoon, "C" Company, 1st Battalion, 36th AIR, 3rd Armored Division. He served from 1944-46.
When the war ended his unit was demobilized in Dec.1945 and he was assigned to the 438th AAA Automatic Weapons Bn.
He served as an MP at a jail for American soldiers that had committed crimes in Nancy, France until he was sent home and discharged in March 1946.
"C" Company received special mention for valor for the attack on Paderborn Airfield. My Dad told me 20 out of 35 men in his platoon were killed in the charge across the airfield. The Germans were using 20mm AA guns on them and it was very bad...
Attached is a photo of dad taken after he returned home and was discharged. You can see the "ruptured duck" patch next to the right lapel on his jacket.
Dad passed away on May 8, (VE Day) 2002.
"...a photo of Dad and me a couple of years before he passed away." Dale and Roland Harris.
Photos furnished by Dale Harris and used with his permission.
Here's a photo of Dad and his platoon sergeant James Johnson. ( Dad is on the right) Dad wrote on the back of the photo: "Here I am again in Kindlebruck after the war ended. The fellow beside me is a combat soldier and a darn good one. I really had confidence in him. He turned me in for my Silver Star honey. I love you Hazel." (My Mother's name.)
Dad was nominated for a Silver Star when he made three trips through a German minefield to help his friend 20 year-old Eddie Zilko who had stepped on a mine and was mortally wounded. Eddie didn't want Dad to leave him but Dad said he had to go get help. Dad made it to back to the rear and found a doctor (a captain) and a Medic. Dad tried to get them to go back with him to help Eddie but neither one would go because of the minefield.
Dad said he cussed them both until a fly wouldn't land on them. He went back through the minefield by himself only to find that Eddie had died. In dad's words "he was already gray".
Dad believed to the end that the reason he got a Bronze Star instead of a Silver Star is because he cussed out that Captain.
When dad would open up and talk about Eddie he would say that Eddie had given him a haircut just the day before and he would always get choked up and couldn't go on. It was still very real to him over a half century later.
(Photo and caption courtesy of Dale Harris, son of Roland Harris)
Here's another photo of Dad. It was taken somewhere in the Ruhr Valley. He's in the center. He could not remember the name of the other GI. The other person was a Ukrainian laborer. Dad had swapped him a potato, which he is eating, for a piece of black bread. The inscription on the back of the photo: " Here I am. Not much to look at, huh? (about 5 days growth I guess?) I guess you're glad to get a picture of me anyway, aren't you , Hazel? I love you, honey."