Morton E. Harris

Morton E. Harris

Let it be known that it is with great respect and admiration that we honor Major Morton E. Harris, U.S. Army Air Corps, upon his induction into the Michigan Military and Veterans Hall of Honor. Harris served a distinguished military career, including service during World War II. Indeed, his contribution to his country is a feat to which we all should aspire.

Morton E. Harris, of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan was born on Sunday, April 4, 1920. He graduated from Detroit Central High School and attended Wayne State University. Mort joined the U.S. Army Air Corps immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack on Sunday, December 7, 1941. He served as commander of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress squadron during World War II. Harris flew 30 combat missions with the 8th Air Force, 95th Bomber Group in the European Theater of Operations. His flights included daylight strategic air strikes over France and dropping supplies into Warsaw for the besieged Polish resistance fighters.

Mort was nicknamed “The Berlin Kid” after flying in seven of the first eight bombing missions over Berlin. Harris was shot down twice, once in the North Sea losing four men and again barely clearing the white cliffs of Dover to land in a field. He flew two D-Day missions when the ground command lost use of Identification Friend or Foe radar-based identification system that delayed his damaged plane with injured being authorization to land in England. Major Harris was honorably discharged in 1945. Mort had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross three times and six Air Medals, with the Knight of the French Legion of Honor Medal, Warsaw Uprising Cross and the Polish Home Army Cross. Harris was founder and president of the Mercier Corporation. He served as a board member for Michigan National Bank and Henry Ford Hospital. Mort was co-founder of American Axle and Manufacturing (AAM) in 1994. AAM manufactures automobile driveline and drivetrain components and systems, with the Albion Automotive subsidiary in the United Kingdom. Harris was a 2018 Churchill Fellow inductee and selected 2019 “Michiganian of the Year.” He is a philanthropist having donated to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Institute of Arts, Oakland Family Services, Cranbrook Garden Club and the Michigan Science Center. Mort contributed $20 million for construction of a new cancer facility at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. The “Mort Harris Recreation and Fitness Center” and “Harris Literacy Program” at Wayne State University are named in his honor.

Indeed, the patriotic contributions of Major Harris must be recognized, as in all who have served the United States of America in this capacity. The personal sacrifice so selflessly offered by these brave men and women for the preservation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness must never be forgotten. Mort Harris embraced the essence of American heroism and should be recognized as a role model by all individuals.

In special tribute, therefore, we honor Major Harris for his exemplary service to the United States of America, and to commemorate his induction into the Michigan Military and Veterans Hall of Honor.