KNOXVILLE, TN, USA U.S. Army SPC, 293D MILITARY POLICE COMPANY, (TF OLYMPIA), FORT STEWART, GA 31314 MOSUL, IRAQ 12/02/2004
Army Specialist George Daniel Harrison helped his fellow military policemen break the tension of constant danger in Iraq with infectious laughter, starting water gun fights and doing his grizzled veteran shtick.
Harrison, 22, of Knoxville, Tenn., was killed Dec. 2 during a firefight in Mosul. But fellow soldiers and family attending a memorial service Wednesday at Fort Stewart remembered the young soldier for his fearless sense of humor.
“He would talk about Vietnam like he was there, back in Nam,” said Specialist Joshua Curl, Harrison’s roommate. “He would buy water guns from the Iraqi kids and come in guns blazing. We acted like a bunch of kids on our downtime, but when it was time for business, everybody was on it.”
Harrison deployed in March with his unit, the 293rd Military Police Company, to help train and acclimate Iraqi police forces. It was hazardous duty, soldiers say, with troops under constant ambush from insurgents.
In Harrison’s honor, Fort Stewart officials planted an eastern redbud tree with a granite stone engraved with his name at its root at the Army post’s Warrior’s Walk memorial.
The lane of trees was begun in 2003 as a living memorial to 3rd Infantry Division soldiers killed in Iraq. Harrison’s tree marks him as the division’s 46th casualty since the invasion of Baghdad.
“I always told him, ‘You’re my hero,”‘ said Doug Harrison, the soldier’s father, who attended the ceremony with his wife, Kim, and younger son, Joshua. “Even though we knew he was in harm’s way, you never, ever expect it to be your baby that’s taken away.”
The night he was killed, Harrison was behind the machine gun of a Humvee when his convoy rushed to offer suppressing fire to U.S. troops under attack by insurgents. Curl, who rode in another vehicle in the firefight, said an Iraqi bullet ricocheted off the front shield of Harrison’s machine gun and struck him in the chest. For members of his unit, Harrison’s death hit especially hard because another soldier in his platoon, Specialist Andrew L. Tuazon, was killed in a firefight May 10.
Despite losing his older brother, Joshua Harrison, 20, cracked a smile while he told of a recent conversation with a friend. They were talking about his brother’s sacrifice, and the friend started laughing.
“She said, ‘I know what Dan would say in this situation – Ha, ha! I’m famous.”‘