BANGOR, ME, USA U.S. Army SPC, 172D BRIGADE SUPPORT BATTTALION, 172D SBCT (101 AA), FORT WAINWRIGHT, AK BAYJI, IRAQ 04/06/2006
Dustin was born May 11, 1984, in Millinocket, Maine, the son of Lorna and Scott Harris of Patten. Dustin took pride in everything he did from school projects, to soccer, spending time with family and friends, and jobs held during high school and college years. He touched so many people’s lives that he will certainly be sadly missed and never forgotten by family, friends, community, and this country.
Dustin graduated from Katahdin High School in June 2002 where he was a four-year varsity soccer player. Dustin was an outstanding soccer player who traveled to England to play soccer one spring. He was active in the Stetson United Methodist Church. But most of all he was known for his big smile and gentle ways. He also played a year of baseball and was involved in fundraisers and other class activities.
“He was just a wonderful young man and we’re going to miss him terribly,” said Katahdin High School Principal Rae Bates, who remembered Harris as a good student and outstanding soccer player who was active in his church. Bates said she had encouraged Harris to go on to college but he decided to join the military instead. I asked ‘Are you sure you really want to do this?’ It was so soon after 9/11, she recalled. Bates also said Harris was “one of those outstandingly good people.” “He was a talented young man, kind and considerate, who got along well with adults.”
Dustin enlisted in the U.S. Army June 2004. After graduating from basic training, Dustin went to advanced individual training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO.
His most exhilarating accomplishment was when he earned his wings as a qualified paratrooper.
Dustin was assigned the 172nd Brigade Support Battalion, which is part of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team stationed in Mosul. He was a motor transport operator who joined the Army in July 2004 and he was assigned to Fort Wainwright in February 2005. Dustin received an Army Achievement Medal and was promoted to Specialist after only 12 months of service time.
It was Dustin J. Harris’s sense of humor and clumsiness that provided his friends endless comic relief.
“A 5-9 with size 13 feet, friends said walking anywhere was a challenge for him and a joke session for them to watch,” Chaplain David Neetz said. While in Iraq, Harris corresponded with students in his aunt’s fourth-grade class, Bates said. They sent him care packages and cards. He would write back.”So indeed he has touched us,” Bates said of the community.
Chief Warrant Officer Mark E. Chapman said Harris was not a soldier seeking attention. “While some search for glory, Dustin tried to pass glory on to others,” he said. While on duty, for example, he was the often the lead gunner of a convoy.
While serving in Iraq, Dustin received numerous awards including, a 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.
His fellow comrades and friends have communicated to his family that he was an excellent soldier and that they felt privileged to have known and served with him.