Homer P. Harrison

engineer/top turret gunner

heitz crew

Harrison, age 15, in the Civilian Conservation Corps, Ft. Jackson, S.C., 1939

Interview with Mrs. Homer Harrison

April 19, 2008

 by Linda Alice Dewey

The KMHS Search and Contact Team found the Harrison residence in 2008. We were appalled to learn that he had died. Mrs. Christine Harrison agreed to be interviewed by Linda Alice Dewey. These are Linda’s notes on the interview. At the time, there was a question as to whether Harrison was on the mission, since he was included on some crew lists but not on all.

Homer Harrison died a year ago. “We were married 65 years when he died," said Mrs. Harrison. 

He was definitely on the Kassel Mission. One [on their crew] was killed; one injured badly.

On the Kassel Mission: He got hit over Germany and just made it back to Belgium to land. Homer knew that that landing was gonna be a rough landing. “Two engines were gone,” Homer used to say. “I was so afraid we might explode when we were hit, I rolled out of the plane. I bailed out just before landing and knocked my shoulders out of place. I thought it would be better to roll out rather than to blow up.” He said that he saw a man bail out over Germany.

[On another mission] They had dropped the bombs and couldn’t crank the bomb doors shut. Homer straddled the rack and went back—they weren’t supposed to fly, and he went aboard without a parachute. Walked the broken bomb bay doors and went back and said “I can get that closed.” He kicked it…and it went. “If we go down,” he said, “we’re going down piggyback.”

Homer was on base when The Bunnie crashed (the plane this crew often flew pictured above). “I was standing there shaving and ran out the door,” he would say when he told ther story. At Tibenham, “he took us to a tree,” says Mrs. Harrison. “The Bunnie hit that tree. Half that tree looks burned out, the other half is living. This was 15 years ago at least,” she said.  

IS M+ 42-7619 "Bunnie" in flight,                                                                              Photos courtesy Norfolk Gliding Club

Remains of "Bunnie"

One story: “[Harrison and Vedera] had been downtown at a pub, past curfew, and heard the police coming. They had hoped to get back to base, then heard the MP jeep. “Were going to hide in shrubbery. Vedera was going to hop the fence, but there was a brick wall behind the fence.” Vedera hit the brick fence. As a punishment, Vedera had to peel potatoes.

Another time, “Harrison & Vedera took a jeep and had a few beers in them, came in and the brakes didn’t work. They knocked the outhouse down.”

She said that farmers had chickens. The men stewed one on the stove in their hut.

Harrison was in the CCC before the war.   

After the war, the war, Homer saw Sgt. Palm (from his crew) in England. He had married an English girl and became a policeman in England. Homer saw him on a street in England. Went up to him and they went out later. Homer saw Vedera on the street in Sacramento, going to Mess. He was a Master Sergeant, too.

Homer stayed in the service.“Homer was in Saigon as a civilian working for the military and was there and got out a week before it fell. An American plane came in to take some Vietnamese out [and he got on it.]."  He was usually stationed in Carolinas and stayed in for a total of 23 years and retired as a master sergeant.

After retirement, he took a lot of jobs overseas in Thailand and Saudi Arabia. “Thailand—you talk about boondocks!" she exclaimed. "It was the first time I ever saw a leper. They would beg.”

“I have written a lot about their father,” says Mrs. Harrison, “and the girls have, too.” She refers to their daughters. Together, they gave a program on Veterans’ Day at church. 

The family donated all of Harrison’s things, including pictures take from the air, to the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum in Pooler, Georgia.

Copyright 2008 Linda Alice Dewey, All Rights Reserved