Lexington Resident, in Navy, Dies in War Zone

Winston-Salem Journal

September 2, 2008 – A Navy SEAL from Lexington was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday, the Navy said yesterday.

Petty Officer Josh Harris, 36, drowned after he was swept away during a nighttime river-crossing, according to a Navy news release and Harris’ brother.

“My brother was defending our country the best way he knew how,” the brother, Ranchor Harris III, said in an interview.

Harris said that his brother loved being a SEAL and accepted the risk involved.

“When you fight for freedom, that’s the end of the deal,” he said. “Every day there’s a person like my brother out there who’s keeping this country safe.”

The Navy did not provide further details about the incident.

Family members told WGHP/FOX8 that Harris’ safety harness came undone. His body was later found downstream.

SEALs take their name from being trained for missions involving sea, air and land.

Harris had worked his way through various SEAL assignments to the Naval Special Warfare Tactical Development and Evaluation Squadron Two, an elite team within the SEALs based near Virginia Beach, Va.

Harris graduated in 1990 from Lexington Senior High School, where he was a standout football player. His family said he went to Davidson College, graduating in 1994 with a degree in studio art. He then went to UNC Charlotte to study for a master’s in architecture.

Ranchor Harris said that his brother decided to try to serve as a SEAL in 2000, a few months before he turned 29, which is the Navy’s cutoff for acceptance into the SEALs.

Harris had been deployed to Iraq several times and earned several awards, including the Bronze Star medal.

He never talked about any of his awards, Harris said.

“He was an understated, reserved and very humble individual,” Harris said. “He would say, ‘It was the team.'”

Harris is survived by his parents, Sam and Evelyn Harris, twin sister, Kiki Harris, his brother, and aunts and uncles.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

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