for Harris Lee was truly a celebration of his life. There was a sign on the back wall of
the chapel that said Maximum Capacity: 170. Extra folding chairs had to be set up in order
to accommodate all of the people who came. Modelers made up about half the people in
The numbers of the people from various walks of life that Harris had touched in some way
were impressive to see. Even his neighbors came to pay tribute to his loving personality.
They said that on his way to the golf course, he would stop and play with their
grandchildren and get the biggest kick out of them. I'm sure the feelings were mutual with
The chapel had two large bouquets of flowers mounted on standing easels, one on each side
of a table. On the table was a framed up 1/4 scale G-Bee R1 which Harris had started years
ago and worked on until the end. This was given to Gene Barton to finish and to fly
On the right side of the table was another easel that contained a framed DFC, the Distinguished
Flying Cross medal that Harris had
earned during the war. Below that was a folded American Flag that accompanied the medal.
On the left side, Harris' flight jacket complete with his squadron markings and nametag.
The jacket looked so small but when you think that he was only 22 and just a kid when he
wore it, it made sense.
The Minister was a friend of the Lee family and his wife had helped to take care of Harris
in the last months.
Gene Barton told a funny story that happened to he and Harris on the way to
a T-6 race (Harris wanted to see what all the racing excitement was about). Gene and
Harris, upon arrival to the flying field with the motor home, they were rear-ended. Well,
Gene got out to see about the damage and when he came back, Harris was nowhere to be
found. He assumed that Harris wandered down to the flight line.
A quick fix to the motor home required it to be backed up on blocks. Gene began backing up
onto the blocks. The first attempt failed so he got a run at it. The whole motor home
lunged into the air and settled with a bang onto the blocks. Just then, he hears a lot of
yelling and banging and commotion from the rear of the motor home. Upon investigation of
the rear, he opened the door of the bathroom to find Harris in the bathtub. Harris had
been trying to use the facility when Gene backing onto the blocks had launched him right
off the john and into the tub.
Bill Hart a long time friend to Harris read his story about fighter pilots. It was a
moving tribute to Harris and his bravery flying F6F Hellcats in the war.
It was then my turn to speak on behalf of the US Scale Masters & what Harris' life
meant to all the modelers. It went well--although it is a little difficult to recall. We
all lingered on for some time afterward, as we were unwilling that the moment should truly
pass. Lots of family, friends & some famous modelers mingling, talking, reminiscing
& quietly reflecting on what Harris' journey in this life meant in their lives.
Many gathered at Harris' brother Don's home after the Memorial Service. Don has a very
nice place right on the ocean overlooking a private cove where the waves came crashing
down with the soothing sound that only the surf can make. They told us that Harris spent a
lot of time here on the patio watching the waves and the dolphins play. It was such a
peaceful place and way in the distance, you could just see the outline of Catalina Island.
As we gathered and ate our food, Don announced that there was something special about to take place. And out in the distance, low and over the
water, came a silhouette. A F6F Hellcat from Chino was moving fast & northbound. It
suddenly banked toward us and flew straight for us! We watched with our mouths open as it
chandelled up right in front of us! It was so close that the reflections of the waves were
visible on the bottom of the wings. It peeled off to the right and commenced a power climb
presenting a full top view of the aircraft. At the top of the climb, it leveled off and
wagged its wings and headed back to base.
So long Harris, you have been a
Earl Aune, Chairman
U. S. Scale Masters Assn., Inc.