Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., USN (Ret)
JAVA Research Team
Colorado. Having completed his two and one half years assignment as US Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Admiral Harry Harris, USN (Ret) and his wife, CDR Bruni Bradley, USN (Ret), left Seoul on January 21, 2021, for their home in Colorado. The Seoul assignment was ADM Harris’ second assignment to the State Department, the first being in October 2011 as the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman’s representative to the secretary of state with “additional duties as the U.S. roadmap monitor for the Mid-East Peace Process”.
Prior to his Seoul assignment in June 2018 for a period of 3 years, ADM Harris, a Japanese American, was commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, headquartered at Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Honolulu, responsible for the protection of U.S. security for about one half of the world. Apart from his official duties, Harris said he enjoyed his relationship with the residents. He said “we miss Hawaii and look for the opportunity to visit our friends there once Covid conditions permit.” Prior to that, from 2013-2015, Harris was Commander of US Pacific Fleet headquartered in Pearl Harbor. Except for a few who might have slipped in unnoticed and one who was protected by Naval intelligence, no Nisei served as regulars in the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marines during World War II. Nisei were banned from entering Pearl Harbor during WW II. Nisei linguists who served in CINCPAC were assigned to JICPOA (Joint Intelligence, Central Pacific Ocean Area) and were given office space in a former furniture store in downtown Honolulu. In addition to translating documents, they were attached to marine and Navy island-hopping invasions in the Pacific. When the invading units returned to Hawaii, the Nisei reported to JICPOA.
CINCPAC received Nisei-produced intelligence from other sources such as the Japanese Navy Z Plan, their master plan to annihilate American naval power in the Pacific. The Z Plan was translated at ATIS (Allied Translation and Interpretation Section), a unit of General Douglas Mac Arthur’s headquarters in Australia and air couriered to CINCPAC, where it was retranslated into Navy-ese, and delivered to naval commanders at Eniwetok where commanders had just ended their meeting for the forthcoming naval battle of the Philippine Sea. One copy was passed to Admiral Raymond Spruance who was still at port, another was passed to Admiral Bill Halsey’s staff, and the third was air dropped on VADM Marc Mitscher’s flagship on the high seas. The Z Plan provided detailed tactical plans and resources. RADM Edwin T. Layton, CINCPAC chief of intelligence, praised the acquisition of the Z Plan saying, “Our biggest break came not from our reconnaissance flights or enemy radio transmission but from another batch of captured documents.”
ADM Harris was born in Japan and grew up in Crossville, TN and Pensacola, FL. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1978. During his naval career, ADM Harris received advanced degrees from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. He also studied at Oxford University and was an MIT Seminar 21 fellow. ADM Harris is the highest ranking Asia Pacific American in the U.S. Navy and one of the four Japanese Americans who have attained the four star rank in the U.S. armed forces.
ADM Harris held a variety of command and staff positions throughout his career. He has logged 4,400 flight hours, including more than 400 combat hours, in maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. Designated as a naval flight officer (NFO) in 1979, his first assignment was Patrol Squadron (VP) 44. Subsequent operational tours included tactical action officer aboard USS Saratoga, operations officer in VP-4, three tours with Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1, director of operations for U.S. 5th Fleet, and director of operations for U.S. Southern Command. Harris commanded VP-46, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1, Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, the U.S. 6th Fleet, Striking and Support Forces NATO, the U.S. Pacific Fleet and U.S. Pacific Command. Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, located at Guantanamo, Cuba, held prisoners captured in the Afghanistan War after September 11 attacks.
ADM Harris served in every geographic combatant command region and participated in major operations including: Achille Lauro terrorist hijacking incident, Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and Odyssey Dawn. ADM Harris’ staff assignments included aide to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan; speechwriter for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS); three tours on the Navy staff, including Deputy CNO for Communication Networks (OPNAV N6).
ADM Harris’ personal decorations include 2 Defense Distinguished Service Medals, 3 Defense Superior Service Medals, 3 Legions of Merit, 2 Bronze Stars, the Air Medal (1 strike/flight), and the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award. He was awarded the Tong-il medal by the Republic of Korea in 2014 and Japan's Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun in 2018. Additionally, he has been recognized by the governments of Australia, Mongolia, the Philippines, and Singapore. He has been nationally recognized as a champion of diversity.
CDR Bradley and ADM Harris