THORNTON, CO, US
U.S. Marine Corps
CPL, 3D BN 1ST MAR, (RCT-7, I MEF FWD) 1ST MAR DIV, CAMP PENDLETON, CA
12/16/2010, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
Larry D. Harris Jr. made his friends laugh.
A couple years ago, he and his hip-hop group, 2 Real 4 Da Mind, pulled an all-nighter in Las Vegas. As his friends were getting ready to fall asleep around 7 a.m., Harris started jumping on the bed doing a spot-on imitation of a gorilla.
Jimmy Macias and others can’t help but look back at the funny memories of Harris, even as they mourn the 24-year-old Marine corporal’s death.
On Thursday, the 2003 Boulder High School graduate was killed by a roadside bomb while on a combat foot patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, the U.S. Marine Corps announced Friday.
Those who knew Harris best described him as fun, light-hearted and entertaining. “He was happy-go-lucky,” said Seth Hetherington, who played high school football with Harris. “He was always happy, always smiling.”
Harris served as a defensive lineman for the Panthers, ran track and field and served in various campus clubs.
“If there was an assembly, he was in front of it,” said former Boulder High football coach Bob Carskie, now the offensive coordinator at Centaurus High School.
Carskie said that in every aspect of his life Harris was “committed to being successful.” Anything that he may have lacked in talent, he made up for with will power and determination.
“He just kept showing up every day and made himself into a high-quality football player,” Carskie said.
As a hip-hop artist with his friends, he was able to perform locally with Macias and Anthony Romero, who had all been friends since the sixth grade at Casey Middle School. Romero said that Harris always had stage presence.
“The energy he provided was phenomenal,” Romero said. “He just exuded confidence everywhere he went.”While his fun side was always apparent, Hetherington said that when something needed to get done, Harris was “the first one to say ‘let’s go.'”
Still, he had his fair share of obstacles. As a black kid growing up in a predominately white area, Harris had to deal with racism, Macias said.
“He was always the only black kid in class,” Macias said. “We always dealt with it.”
Harris tackled racism head-on, participating in programs such as Reading to End Racism, which helps educate local elementary school children about the issue.
Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Macias said that Harris originally wanted to join the Air Force and did several patrol ride-alongs with local law enforcement. He joined the Marines in May 2006, in part because of the influence from his step-father, who was also Marine. Harris, a Thornton resident, was a mortar man assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Before being deployed to Afghanistan, he also served in Iraq.
Among his service awards were the Purple Heart, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal and the sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
His friends said that he cared deeply for his community and was in the military for the benefit of those around him. His friends said they will never forgot his devotion — and his ability to light up a room.
“He was the shortest,” Macias said, “but always the biggest.”