Downtown Tupelo post office named after Vietnam POW
Col. Carlyle "Smitty" Harris survived eight years as a POW in North Vietnam
TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – A Tupelo post office is renamed for a Vietnam war hero.
“It’s almost overwhelming the honor and support I’ve received from all of you,” said Col. Carlyle “Smitty” Harris.
With his wife of nearly 62 years looking on, Retired US Air Force Colonel Carlyle “Smitty” Harris told friends and family he was in awe at the honor of having the downtown Tupelo post office named after him.
“Never expected, but so appreciated, it’s a wonderful community,” Harris said.
The Harris family has been part of the Tupelo community for decades. Louise and her children moved to Tupelo not long after her husband’s plane was shot down over North Vietnam in 1965. Louise’s sister lived in Tupelo, and she wanted to be close to family, as she waited on word of her husband’s fate.
Colonel Harris spent eight years as a POW, some of that time in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” where he endured repeated torture. He also used the time to teach fellow POWs a code for communicating with one another. His story is chronicled in the book “Tap Code.”
During his captivity, Harris wrote letters to his wife, and those letters came to the downtown post office. In fact, Harris brought along the first letter he wrote to Louise from his prison cell, and showed it to the audience. nats
“I’d go to school to pick up the children and Mrs. Blue, who was the traffic lady, would get just as excited as I was, it was a beautiful thing,” Louise Harris said.
The acting manager of operations for the postal service in North Mississippi says she was honored to be at the renaming ceremony.
“As I’ve been going through the community, everyone knows him, a wonderful man, definitely,” said Vettra Dobbs.
Colonel Harris also thanked First District Congressman Trent Kelly, who led the effort to rename the post office in his honor.
After Colonel Harris retired from the Air Force, he went to law school, and worked in law, banking and marketing in Tupelo.