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Kentucky National Guard Memorial

Honoring Their Sacrifice

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Harris, William Sears (P1, C2 L14)

harris william sears hdstnPrivate William "Willie" Sears Harris of Woodbine, Whitley County, died of injuries at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Covington on May 26, 1917 after being struck by a train on 23 May near Falmouth while on state active duty. Harris served with Company A, 2nd Kentucky Infantry based in London.  Harris had extensive injuries with severe damage to both legs. Newspaper accounts speak of his legs being crushed.

See Kentucky Guard Railroad Related Fatalities 1917-18

Harris enlisted in Company A of the 2nd Kentucky on 17 Jun 1916. A handwritten notation on his records show he was honorably discharged on July 24, 1916 due to a surgeons certificate of disability. The Kentucky National Guard was called to federal active duty to patrol a sixty mile stretch of the border between Fort Bliss and Fort Hancock Texas during the Mexican Expedition or Punitive Expedition from June 1916 to February 1917.

Harris reenlisted in the unit on 21 April 1917 after the unit was released from federal active duty and reverted back to state control. Harris was born on Nov 28 1897 in Woodbine, Whitley County and listed his Occupation as a farmer on his enlistment papers.

Many of the Kentucky Guard were on state duty after the border in order to guard key transportation points around the Commonwealth. Harris unit was called to duty on 3 April 1917 and stationed at Falmouth and placed under orders of the Pendleton County judge. His unit's guard sector included all points on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad lines in Pendleton County, beginning with the Bank Lick Bridge, the city of Falmouth, the two Grant Tunnels, the Cruiser Creek Bridge, and the Licking River Bridge at Falmouth. Sentry posts at these points were established and maintained.

Harris is buried in the Perkins Cemetery in Woodbine, Whitley County, Kentucky.

    Two Soldiers Killed

    Hopkinsville Kentuckian May 29, 1917 page 4

    Covington, KY., May 24 -- Williams S. Harris, 17 years old, of Woodburn, Ky., a member of Company A, Second Kentucky Regiment, was struck by a Louisville & Nashville railroad train near Falmouth this morning and probably fatally injured. He was taken to St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Covington, where it was found necessary to amputate his legs. Capt. James P. Dillon, of Company A, accompanied him to the hospital.

    Word was received here from Fort Bliss, Texas, that Jesse J;. Davenport, of Covington, connected with the Hospital corps, was killed by a train at that place.

    Unknown Newspaper Clipping

    Unknown source and date

    The body of W. S. Harris, young soldier of Company A, Second Kentucky Infantry, K. N. G., who died Saturday in the St. Elizabeth Hospital, in Covington, was taken through here this morning en route to his home at Woodbine, Whitley county. While on guard duty, the young man was struck by a train near Falmouth, on May 23, and both legs were cut off. He died at 2:30 Saturday morning.

    Three of the soldiers have died since the regiment was stationed here. A. Watts (Ashford Watts) was killed near Aden when he was struck by a train, and his body was brought here Sunday, May 12. James Fugate died of pneumonia in the Clark county hospital, and a military funeral was conducted here last Sunday, May 19. Young Harris whose body was taken through here today, is the third victim.

    W. S. Harris

    Special to The courier Journal 28 May 1917

    winchester, KY., May 27. - The body of W. S. Harris, member of Company A, Second Kentucky Infantry, who died Saturday in the St. Elizabeth hospital, in Covington, was take through here this morning enroute to his home at Woodbine, Whitley County. While on guard duty the young man was struck by a train near Falmouth on May 23, and both legs were cut off.

    Boy Soldier Killed

    Hopkinsville Kentuckian May 29

    Covington, KY., May 28-William S. Harris, 17 years old, a soldier in the Second Kentucky Regiment, who was struck by a train near Falmouth Thursday, died at St. Elizabeth's Hospital today. Harris was found lying near the railroad track with his legs crushed, he resided in Woodburn, KY. His father, John Harris, arrived from Louisville.

The Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund, Inc., is a recognized 501(c)(3). EIN 26-3705273

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