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General Hugh P. Harris' U.S./Colt M1903 Semi-Automatic General Officer's Pistol
This pistol (SN 566784) was presented to General Hugh P. Harris, U.S. Army. Army general officers have been issued special pistols since the Second World War. The reasons for this are obscure. Some indicate that this was done as a badge of rank, others believe that these officers required a personal defense arm that was small enough to be carried unobtrusively and would not interfere with their movements, be it in and out of aircraft, jeeps, or other modes of transport. Typically, Army general officer pistols have been John Browning-designed Colt Pocket Automatic Pistols in .32 or .380 caliber.
General Hugh Pate Harris, U.S. Army, was born in Anderson, Alabama on June 15, 1909. As a youth, he lived in both Alabama and in Tennessee, where he attended Lawrence County High School and Columbia Military Academy. He was a member of the U.S. Military Academy's Class of 1931, and after receiving his commission as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry, he served at both Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia and at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. He also attended the regular course at the Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia, and participated in an extensive series of field maneuvers with the 5th Infantry Division prior to U.S. involvement in the Second World War.
In 1941, then-Captain Harris was one of five Regular Army officers to volunteer for service with the experimental 88th Airborne Battalion at Fort Benning, where he was responsible for developing techniques for loading combat equipment into transport aircraft and gliders. He also supervised the preparation of both air transport service manuals and training schedules used by several infantry divisions. During the Second World War, he served on the staff of the Airborne Command. Among his duties were the preparation and training of airborne troops and the development of combat doctrine by U.S. Army airborne units.
After the 1943 activation of the 13th Airborne Division, Major Harris was appointed Chief of Staff and served in this position until 1946. After his post-war return from Europe, Colonel Harris attended the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, then remained as a senior instructor for two years. During this period, he also attended the Parachute School at Fort Benning, the Regular Course at the Command and General Staff College, the Air Force School of Applied Tactics, the British Offensive Air Support School, and the National War College. In 1948, Harris served as an exchange officer with Canada and was detailed to the Joint Airborne Training Center in Manitoba, where he helped to initiate and supervise airborne training of the Canadian Brigade.
During 1951-52, he was Chief of Staff of the XVIII Airborne Corps, then took command of the 224th Infantry Regiment, 40th Infantry Division in Korea. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1953 and served as Deputy Chief of Staff, Eighth Army, where he was responsible for all military operations in Korea. In November 1953, General Harris served as Chief of Staff, Second Army at Fort Meade, Maryland.
Two years later, he returned to Germany as Commanding General, Berlin Command, and he later served as Commanding General, 11th Airborne Division attached to the Seventh Army. Among his other commands were the U.S. Army Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Commanding General, I Corps, Korea, Commanding General, Seventh Army, and Commanding General, U.S. Continental Army Command. General Harris was promoted to Major General on December 21, 1955, to Lieutenant General on August 31, 1961, and to General on March 1, 1964.
During his career, he received numerous awards and decorations including the Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, European-African-Middle East Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, and Korean Service Medal with three campaign stars, as well as the Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachute Badge, and Glider Badge. He was married to Lieutenant Colonel Kathleen Burns on December 26th, 1961. General Harris retired from the Army after 34 years of service on February 28, 1965 to accept the presidency of The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. Under his leadership, both academic and athletic programs were expanded and improved.
He retired from this position in 1970. He served on a number of legislative and advisory committees in South Carolina, and he also served as a member of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Advisory Committee, as director of the Boy Scouts of America, the Association of the U.S. Army, the Infantry, Armor, and Women's Army Corps Museums, as past national president of the Airborne Association, and as a member of the board of St. Francis Xavier Hospital. General Harris received honorary degrees from Clemson University and The Citadel. He died on November 3, 1979, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.