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William K. Harrison, Jr., a decorated World War II veteran and a senior negotiator in the Korean War cease-fire, died Monday, May 25, 1987. He was 91 and lived in Springfield, Delaware County. A direct descendant of President William Henry Harrison, General Harrison began his career as an officer in the horse cavalry and concluded it 40 years later in the era of nuclear missiles.
In those four decades Harrison had a distinguished career as a commander, staff officer, administrator and peacemaker.
Born in Washington, D.C., Harrison graduated from the United States Military Academy on April 20, 1917, and was assigned to the 1st Cavalry at Camp Lawrence J. Hearn in California. As a cavalry officer, his assignments through the 1920s and 1930s included posts in France, the Philippines and Spain, as well as assignments in the United States, including the Army War College in Washington, D.C. In 1944, while serving as Assistant Division Commander of the 30th Infantry Division, Harrison was wounded in action in France. It was common for Harrison, machine gun in hand, to tour the front lines amid the action. After the war, from 1946 to 1949, he served on the staff of General Douglas MacArthur during the occupation of Japan.
Harrison became familiar with the Philadelphia-South Jersey region when he was appointed commander of the 9th Infantry Training Division at Fort Dix, New Jersey. In December 1951, he was named Deputy Commander of the Eighth Army in Korea and in January 1952 was picked to serve on the Korean Armistice Delegation under the United Nations Command. His work culminated in July 1953 with his signing the armistice documents as chief delegate for the United Nations Command in a ceremony in Panmunjom, Korea.
A Baptist lay evangelist for many years, Harrison did not smoke or drink and was proud of his religious activities. In 1954, Harrison was visiting his daughter and her family in Springfield and spoke at the Delaware County Christian Day School in Havertown. Harrison, then Chief of the Far East Command, told the youngsters to put their trust in God and "follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I still study not only military subjects but what I consider the most important subject, the Bible."
A month after he retired in February 1957, he accepted the executive directorship of the Evangelical (Child) Welfare Agency in Chicago. He served three years in that post before moving to Largo, Florida, and later to Delaware County.
His medals included Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Purple Heart.
Had been a member of the Lownes Free Church, the Officers Christian Fellowship and the Alumni Association of the United States Military Academy.
His first wife, the former Eva Toole, and his second wife, the former Forrest King, are deceased. Is survived by three sons, William K. III, W. Terry and Wayne King; a daughter, Evelyn H. Kent; 9 grandchildren; and 7 great-grandchildren.
Buried in Arlington National Cemetery. ( 1895-1987).
William Kelly Harrison Jr. (d. 1987; age 91) was a lieutenant general in the United States Army, and the head of the United Nations armistice delegation in the Korean War.
A direct descendant of President William Henry Harrison, he graduated in 1917 from West Point, and received a commission in the cavalry and was assigned to the 1st Cavalry at Camp Lawrence J. Hearn in California. Following that posting he returned to teach at West Point and served in France before the end of World War I, this was followed by assignments in the United States and the Philippines. In 1932 he was appointed as the commander of the Army Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, followed by a transfer to the War Department.
During World War II he served as assistant commander of the 30th Division, and was wounded in France, receiving the Distinguished Service Cross, the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with Cluster and the Purple Heart. In 1945 he was appointed as the commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, which was stationed in Czechoslovakia.
In 1946, after a brief stint heading Camp Carson in Colorado, he led the reparations section of the occupation of Japan under Douglas McArthur. In 1950 he became the commander of the 9th Infantry Training Division at Fort Dix in New Jersey. In 1951 he became the deputy commander of the Eighth Army in Korea. He was picked to serve on the Korean Armistice Delegation under the United Nations Command. His work culminated in July 1953 with his signing the armistice documents as chief delegate for the United Nations Command in a ceremony in Panmunjom, Korea.
From 1954 to 1972 he was the president of the Officers' Christian Fellowship.
His Father, William Kelly Harrison, Commander, United States Navy, was a recipient of the Medal of Honor and is buried nearby in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.
This is to Certify that
The President of the United States of America
Takes Pride in Presenting
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS
HARRISON, WILLIAM KELLY, JR.
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to William Kelly Harrison, Jr., Brigadier General, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with Assistant Division Commander, 30th Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 25 July 1944, in France. Brigadier General Harrison's intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 30th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.
Headquarters, Ninth U.S. Army, General Orders No. 134 (1945)