Piper Nancy Frederick plays “Mist Covered Mountains” as Cpl. Nicholas Wells

Piper Nancy Frederick plays “Mist Covered Mountains” as Cpl. Nicholas Wells

Veteran laid to rest at Fort Worden with honors

PORT TOWNSEND — His parents met at the USO club — now the American Legion hall — in Port Townsend after World War II.

He was born at the U.S. Marine Hospital in Seattle and raised on military bases from Washington, D.C., to Port Angeles.

In 1969, he enlisted in the Army, took basic training at Fort Lewis and volunteered for duty in Vietnam.

He also served in Okinawa, Japan, and as a special forces medic in Korea.

In a 22-year military career, he earned a nursing administration degree and a master’s in business administration, and served at military hospitals across the U.S.

On the Monday before Memorial Day, Master Sgt. (Ret.) Duane Quenten Harris was laid to rest at Fort Worden Military Cemetery with full military honors.

The 593rd Sustainment Brigade Honors Team of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, led by Cpl. Nicholas Wells, performed the flag ceremony, gun salute and taps.

Port Townsend piper Nancy Stewart played “Mist-Covered Mountains” for the processional as well as “Amazing Grace” during the graveside service.

Harris’ wife, Lori K. Gibson, said he learned to play the bagpipes while stationed at Fort Gordon in Georgia.

He played “Amazing Grace” at military funerals at Tahoma Veterans Cemetery and was in the Clan Stewart and Tacoma Scots bagpipe bands, she said.

“Duane was very active in his Scottish heritage,” Gibson said.

After retiring from the military in 1990, Harris, as an Oakville resident, attended the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Port Hadlock.

He was a volunteer deckhand on the Coast Guard cutter Comanche and a member of the Lake Union Wooden Boat Foundation.

Harris died at his Oakville home on March 11, 2009. He was 60.

His remains were cremated, and a memorial service was held April 6, 2009, at Puget Sound Health Care in Olympia.

Chaplain (Major) Robert Kinnune conducted the funeral service at Fort Worden, talking about Harris’ life and faith.

Harris belonged to the Puyallup Church of the Nazarene, where he was a member of the choir and a gospel quartet.

Chaplain (Capt.) Barry Malone read the 23rd Psalm. Duane’s brother, Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. (Ret.) J.J. Harris, read a poem.

Also attending the service was Diane Harris Rice, Duane and J.J.’s sister, who was born at the post hospital at Fort Worden.

Their father, Clarence J. Harris, was a career Coast Guardsman who met his future wife, Mary Jean Copper, at the USO in Port Townsend.

Clarence Harris was stationed in Port Townsend from 1946-51, and on the Coast Guard cutter Winona out of the Port Angeles Coast Guard Air Station from 1958-60, J.J. Harris said.

His father was transferred to Juneau, Alaska, where the children spent most of their school years.

Duane Harris graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School and was in the National Guard when he volunteered for active service, his brother said.

According to Gibson, Duane’s motivation for volunteering for combat duty in Vietnam was to prevent his brother, a junior officer, from being sent into a battle zone.

Gibson said the decision for interment at Fort Worden derived from her and Duane’s childhoods as military dependents.

Gibson was born on an Army base in Anchorage, Alaska.

Her father, Chief Warrant Officer Cecil Curtis Gibson, is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Cpl. Wells said his honors team, a term he prefers to funeral detail, has conducted 17 services this month.

His job: to instill a passion for the work in his young team, all of whom volunteer for the duty, and to help them stay focused in the face of the family’s grief.

“I have been in the military for nine years and been a part of many of these services,” Wells said.

“They never fail to strike a chord in the heart that will leave a lasting mark.

“I am honored to be able to give the deceased one final military honor and show the family how grateful we are for their loved one’s service to our great country.”

Gibson said when the time comes, she will be buried at Fort Worden Military Cemetery next to her husband.

“Returning to post for both Duane and I gave us a comfortable feeling of being able to go back to where we both felt secure growing up,” Gibson said.

“Safe on base — safe on post.”

________

Jennifer Jackson is a freelance writer and photographer living in Port Townsend. To contact her, email jjackson@olypen.com.

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