Toms River Regional Schools Hall of Fame

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Sidney L. Harris

Anyone visiting downtown Toms River is familiar with Harris' Store and its "Distinctive Apparel for Men & Women". Founded in the 1920's by Abe Harris, Sid's father, it has been a fixture of the downtown landscape.

Sid attended Toms River School from grade 1 through grade 12, graduating in 1941. A top student, he played first trumpet in the high school band and first violin in the orchestra. Among his many accomplishments he won the school wide American Legion Oratorical Contest.

Like many of his 1941 classmates, Sid would soon be in military service joining the Army Air Corps in 1942 and entering the Flying Cadet program. After receiving his wings and commission Sid volunteered to fly B-17s. Once he completed transition training he was assigned to a crew of nine. Together Sid and his crew flew over 32 missions over Europe.

As far as combat missions Sid remembers, "We had some easy ones and a number of tough times. One in particular stands out. On a Berlin mission we ran into strong opposition before reaching our target. We lost an engine causing a loss of airspeed and a loss of altitude. Our squadron continued on without us. I had to turn back and jettison our bomb loan. They then got my second engine and things got serious. Luckily for me a P-51 joined up for protection. I was trying to reach England, all this time still losing altitude and airspeed. We could not make it back. I hit the bail out alarm and my boys jumped. Frank, my co-pilot, and I were alone. Looking out the right window, we spotted an airstrip and decided to try a crash landing. Time for one more turn... we turned into the airstrip, dropped the wheels, flaps and pulled on the elevator with everything we had. The plane crash landed on an RAF fighter strip in Holland. We were both lucky. We were picked up and taken back to our base. I was assigned another B-17 and continued flying missions until the end of the war."

Sid came home after the war, went to college and, upon graduating, returned to Toms River with many opportunities that might take him away from his hometown. Sid's dad offered him the opportunity to stay home to take over and run Harris'. He chose to accept his father's offer. If you stopped in Harris' in the 50's, 60's, 70's and/or 80's, chances are you met Sid. Outgoing and friendly, Sid was always ready to talk as well as sell you a suit or a pair of pants. If you served in the Army AOR Corp or had an interest in boats or planes (his passion), so much the better!

All in all, Sid Harris became a popular hometown son. He was a World War II flying fortress pilot and a dedicated and active contributing member of the Ocean County Community. Sid was more than just a personable businessman. Sid was an active participant and leader in the community. He was someone who contributed much to its growth and took a leading role in turning the town and county into what it is today. He is past President of the Kiwanis, District Commission of the Ocean County Council of the Boy Scouts of America for 20 years, Chairman of the Council's Eagle Scout Board of Review (Sid is an Eagle himself), and an active member of the Toms River Chamber of Commerce, serving as Vice President.

Although Sid retired and moved to Florida in 1991, he will always have a special place in the heart of this community.

Toms River Regional Schools congratulates Sidney L. Harris as a 2009 member of the Hall of Fame.

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