Obituary: Harry Clifford Harrison

Decorated U.S. Air Force veteran, Claremont High graduate

Harry Clifford Harrison, who grew up in Claremont and graduated from Claremont High School, died September 23 at his home in the Philippines. He was 80 years old.

A 1965 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a career Air Force officer, he was buried at the Clark Air Force Base cemetery in the Philippines, where he was stationed during the Vietnam War. He was involved in aerial monitoring of the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the flow of supplies to the Viet Cong during the war, and received numerous military awards.

He was born in San Pedro May 6, 1941, while his father, Harry John Harrison, a 1935 West Point graduate and coast artillery officer, was stationed at Fort MacArthur. His mother was Catherine Carswell, daughter of another coast artillery officer. When World War II began, his father joined the newly formed 82nd Airborne Division airborne infantry. Colonel Harrison was killed in 1944 during the U.S.’s first fighting in Germany. After several years in Long Beach, the family moved to Claremont.

Harry wanted to enter West Point and was known for his interest in science and his ability to recreate historic scientific devices, such as Van de Graaff generators. His experiments often resulted in unplanned explosions that shook the neighborhood near Harper Hall, on 10th Street. He played football at Claremont High and, after a year at the Sullivan Prep school in Washington D.C., turned down his acceptance to West Point so he could go to the new U.S. Air Force Academy.

He graduated from the academy in 1965, in the second class to graduate from the new facility.

He was involved with computers early in their development and spent the remainder of his career teaching computer science.

Survivors include his sister Selma Harrison Calmes, MD, of Culver City, California; brother Bob Harrison of Hemet, California; brother Rick Thomsen of Hemet; brother Tom Thomsen of Phoenix; and a Filipino family.


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