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Former Vietnam POW surprised with a room dedication

Ret. Col. Carlyle “Smitty” Harris, former Vietnam prisoner of war, and Ret. Lt. Col. Richard “Sonic” Johnson, former Columbus Air Force Base member, talk about Harris’ memorabilia on September 18, 2020, in Tupelo, Miss. Harris was held captive for a portion of time at the infamous Hanoi Hotel in Vietnam. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Davis Donaldson)

Ret. Col. Carlyle “Smitty” Harris, former Vietnam prisoner of war, and Ret. Lt. Col. Richard “Sonic” Johnson, former Columbus Air Force Base member, talk about Harris’ memorabilia on September 18, 2020, in Tupelo, Miss. Harris was held captive for a portion of time at the infamous Hanoi Hotel in Vietnam. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Davis Donaldson)

A plaque with Ret. Col. Carlyle “Smitty” Harris’ name is placed above a room dedicated to Harris. Harris and other POWs would use a tap code to tap the acronym “G.B.U.”, which stands for “God Bless You”. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Davis Donaldson)

A plaque with Ret. Col. Carlyle “Smitty” Harris’ name is placed above a room dedicated to Harris. Harris and other POWs would use a tap code to tap the acronym “G.B.U.”, which stands for “God Bless You”. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Davis Donaldson)

Family and friends gather around as Ret. Col. Carlyle “Smitty” Harris, former prisoner of war, cuts a ribbon and enters room dedicated to himself on September 18, 2020, in Tupelo, Miss. Prior to being caught as a prisoner of war, Harris was piloting and completing missions in the Republic F-105 Thunderchief. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Davis Donaldson)

Family and friends gather around as Ret. Col. Carlyle “Smitty” Harris, former prisoner of war, cuts a ribbon and enters room dedicated to himself on September 18, 2020, in Tupelo, Miss. Prior to being caught as a prisoner of war, Harris was piloting and completing missions in the Republic F-105 Thunderchief. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Davis Donaldson)

Col. David Fazenbaker, 14th Flying Training Wing vice commander, looks at the memorabilia of Ret. Col. Carlyle “Smitty” Harris, former Vietnam prisoner of war, on September 18, 2020, in Tupelo, Miss. Harris wrote a book called “Tap Code”, which he wrote about his experiences and hardships as a POW. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Davis Donaldson)

Col. David Fazenbaker, 14th Flying Training Wing vice commander, looks at the memorabilia of Ret. Col. Carlyle “Smitty” Harris, former Vietnam prisoner of war, on September 18, 2020, in Tupelo, Miss. Harris wrote a book called “Tap Code”, which he wrote about his experiences and hardships as a POW. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Davis Donaldson)

Ret. Col. Carlyle “Smitty” Harris, former prisoner of war, and his wife Louise Harris, sit as their son, Lyle Harris, gives a speech at Harris’ room dedication ceremony on September 18, 2020, in Tupelo, Miss. Harris’ son was born shortly after Harris was captured and he did not see his son until nearly eight years later. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Davis Donaldson)

Ret. Col. Carlyle “Smitty” Harris, former prisoner of war, and his wife Louise Harris, sit as their son, Lyle Harris, gives a speech at Harris’ room dedication ceremony on September 18, 2020, in Tupelo, Miss. Harris’ son was born shortly after Harris was captured and he did not see his son until nearly eight years later. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Davis Donaldson)

TUPELO, Miss. --

Ret. U.S. Air Force Col. Carlyle “Smitty” Harris, former Vietnam prisoner of war, was honored with the dedication of a lounge room in his name at the American Legion Post #49 in Tupelo, Mississippi on September 18, 2020.

He was honored for his exceptional service during the Vietnam War and his time as a POW for 2,781 days.

To make the room dedication ceremony more memorable, Harris’ family and friends surprised Harris and held the ceremony on POW/MIA Recognition Day.

Carlyle Harris’ son, Lyle Harris, spoke about why the ceremony was special and what his father means to their family.

“I believe this room will highlight his love for the military and his dedication to our country,” he said. “Today is of great significance, it’s POW recognition day, as well as the Air Force’s 73rd birthday. My dad is our hero and our role model, we love you dad.”

Shortly after, Harris and his family and friends were led to the room which was dedicated to Harris to cut the ribbon and officially open the room.

The room was filled with memorabilia of Harris’ time in service, including service medals, official portraits and his own book titled “Tap Code” that was released in November of 2019.

Harris led his guests through the room while explaining what each of the pieces were and what they meant to him.

After, Harris and his family thanked American Legion Post #49 for the ceremony.

“Most importantly, I want to thank the members of American Legion Post #49,” Lyle Harris said. “I looked up their motto and it said ‘for God and country’, if you know my father, you know he’s all about God and country. Thank you for providing a platform to show off some special memorabilia for the years to come.”

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