Leslie Earl Harris, Jr

Lieutenant Colonel
United States Air Force
20 March 1924 - 05 May 1968
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Panel 55E Line 016


USAF Command Pilot

The database page for Leslie Earl Harris, Jr

20 Jan 2005

LTC Leslie Earl Harris was a WW II veteran with service in Burma and India. He served as an enlisted man in the Army Air Corps. After the war, he attended the USMA at West Point, New York, and was graduated in 1949. He took a commission in the United States Air Force. He became a B-50 pilot and was involved in a crash of that aircraft in the United Kingdom on June 8, 1951. He walked away. He served in Korea and also served in various air force bases across the country. He attended Air Force schools including the Air Force Command and General Staff College. He served four years in the Pentagon before being assigned to Vietnam. He had family in San Angelo, Texas, and had served at Goodfellow Air Force Base. While he was in Vietnam, his family remained in San Angelo. He was flying "Spooky", a C-47D on a mission in Pleiku when his aircraft was shot down and he perished.

After his death his family remained in San Angelo. Harris Hall at Goodfellow AFB is named in his honor. He is remembered by the Tom Green Memorial and the Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans' Memorial.


Chattanooga, Tennessee

Mature, soft-spoken gentleman from the South, L.E. was respected immediately upon arrival here for his striking military appearance. Although his ambition is to do some flying, we shall always remember him for his immaculate appearance, war experiences in India and Burma, diligence in the gym, and an enviable, consistently excellent efficiency record - all foretelling success.

Football             4
Track                4-2-1
Hop Committee        4-3-2-1
Model Airplane Club  4
Ring Committee       4
Ski Club             2-1
Corporal             2
Sergeant             1

From the U. S. Military Academy Yearbook, Class of 1949

LtCol Harris' decorations and awards included the Legion of Merit; Distinguished Flying Cross; Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart; Air Medal; Air Force Commendation Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; American Defense Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Southeast Pacific Service Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Korean Service Medal; Vietnam Service Medal; United Nations Service Medal; and Vietnam Campaign Medal.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On the night of 4/5 May 1968 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army forces started a widespread offensive which came be termed "Mini-Tet" by the Americans and which involved attacks on over a hundred towns and cities across South Vietnam.

Two 4th Air Commando Squadron AC-47 gunships launched from Phu Cat to engage VC/NVA rocket and mortar sites that were firing on the Pleiku Air Base. One, AC-47D tail number 43-16159, launched with a short crew (only one gunner aboard), while the other, AC-47D 43-76207, carried two extra men - a new navigator taking his first orientation flight and an Army Warrant Officer observer.

Once over target both aircraft were shot down within minutes of each other, killing nine of the 15 crewmen:

  • In AC-47D 43-16159 (no survivors):
    • LtCol Leslie E. Harris, Chattanooga, TN
    • Maj Teddy J. Tomchesson, Marlin, TX
    • Capt Barry L. Brown, Dowell, IL
    • SSgt James E. Bowman, Jonesboro, TN
    • Sgt Douglas J. Cradeur, Sulphur, LA
    • Sgt Roy L. Lede, San Francisco, CA

  • In AC-47D 43-76207 (5 survivors):
    • Capt Donald L. Merry, Pass-a-grill Beach, FL, pilot
    • Maj Richard W. Wackerfuss, St Paul, MN, copilot
    • Capt Edward C. Krawczyk, Warren, RI, 2nd Navigator
Sergeant Nacey Kent, aboard AC-47 43-76207 as Flight Mechanic, sustained a broken leg during the crash landing but never the less repeatedly entered the wrecked aircraft to rescue other crewmembers and was awarded the Air Force Cross for his efforts. The survivors, other than Sgt Kent, were the 1st Navigator, Col Armstrong; loadmaster Kirby Wilson; aerial gunners Ducat and Bryant; and the Army Warrant, name unknown.

Available materials (Hobson's Vietnam Air Losses, for example) are inconclusive regarding who was in which aircraft. The assignments above were provided by Bernie Ducat, one of the surviving crewmembers from AC-47D 43-76207.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a PBVVM representative,
Billy M. Brown
4015 Melody Lane, Odessa, Texas 79762
20 Jan 2005

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 01/20/2005