Bobby Harris
Bobby Harris

Bobby Harris

AFRH-G Veteran Highlight – Bobby Harris
By Lori Kerns, AFRH-G Librarian

Bobby Harris is a fourth generation Harris to be born in Royston, Georgia (home of Ty Cobb). His father, who was the first in the family to be in the military, was a WWII Army veteran. When Bobby was young, his family moved to Greenville, South Carolina. He had an uncle that always talked about how much he loved being a Marine. This influenced him to join the Marines when he turned 18. 

Bobby enjoyed his life in the Marines. During his career he had many choice assignments working in infantry and in personnel. One assignment stands out strong in his memory. During the early 1960’s, Bobby was a corporal and was given the assignment to take a lance corporal with him to the armory to retrieve two pistols and then head to the motor pool for a vehicle. He was told to arrive at Naval Air Station Jacksonville at 0800. He was there to meet Lord Mountbatten, who would eventually become 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and his two grandchildren. The two Marines, wearing their summer dress uniforms, were given the responsibility of taking his two grandchildren to Jacksonville Beach for them to picnic and play in the water. At the end of their day, the children were returned safely to their grandfather. Lord Mountbatten shook Bobby’s hand and thanked him. It was not until a week or so later that Bobby realized what a big deal his assignment was once he heard other people talk about the event.

After putting in his time with the Marines, Bobby went back to Greenville to begin working as a city firefighter and for the Army National Guard. By this time, he had become the father of two sons and two daughters. To support his children, he began thinking about rejoining the military. He went to the Marine Corps and they said that he would have to reenlist as a private first class. He tried the Army next. The recruiter there was candid and told him that he would go in as a Sergeant but he would be required to take an infantry MOS (military occupational specialty) and would be sent to Vietnam “as a target” in about eight months. He consulted the Air Force and was told they did not need him. Finally he went to the Navy who said they were happy to take Marines and that he would enter as a petty officer second class.

Throughout Bobby’s Navy career, he had various assignments such as recruiting, classification, career counseling, administration, and instructive duty. He was fortunate enough not to have to leave his children for sea duty. Throughout his 16-year career, he was only given one sea duty- to Brown Water Navy where he was assigned to run an administration office. In 1986, he retired as a sailor who never went out to sea, and decided to take advantage of the GI Bill.

He went to Nazarene Bible College where he majored in biblical studies and Christian education. While in college, he could not find a good part time job so he began selling various items at flea markets. Eventually he made his way to Taos, New Mexico and opened a successful thrift shop. While living in Taos, Bobby had to become a caretaker for his oldest son who eventually passed away from cancer. Sadly, his oldest daughter had also passed. Because of the experience caring for his son, he knew he did not want to be a burden on his children once he began to age and need help. This prompted him to put an application in to AFRH-G and moved to the Home 32 months later.

Bobby is definitely a proud brother and father. His only sibling, Roger, served in Vietnam and received the Purple Heart. Two of his children have had very successful military careers. His youngest son, Shannon, served as a diver in the Navy for 24 years.
Molly, his youngest daughter, began her Army career in high school at age 17. She retired after 33 years from the U.S. Army Reserve as a full colonel. He is also a proud grandfather to “many grandkids” and great grandfather to “many more great grandkids.”

Bobby enjoys living at AFRH-G where he takes advantage of the Home’s many amenities. He spends time working out in the gym and swimming. He also enjoys attending many of the area festivals and events, in addition to visiting the local churches and casinos. After living in the mountains for over 26 years, he has adapted and loves the coast life. These days, Bobby’s best enjoyment is the hours he spends with his girlfriend of over two years.