Posted Sept. 25, 2008, at 11:16 p.m.

PATTEN – Spc. Dustin James Harris, 21, died April 6, 2006, while serving his country proudly in Bayji, Iraq during “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Dustin was born May 11, 1984, in Millinocket, the son of Lorna and Scott Harris of Patten. Dustin graduated from Katahdin High School in June 2002. He then attended Eastern Maine Technical College in Bangor for two years, while majoring in diesel and heavy mechanics. Dustin enlisted in the U.S. Army June 2004. His military career began immediately in July with the Echo Company 3rd Battalion and the 323rd Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson, S.C. After graduating from basic training in September, Spc. Harris went to advanced individual training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He trained with the Alpha Company 58 Transportation Battalion 3rd Chemical Brigade as a heavy wheeled vehicle operator. He started airborne training with Charlie Company 507th Airborne Infantry Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga. His most exhilarating accomplishment was when he earned his wings as a qualified paratrooper. Dustin was then stationed at Fort Wainwright, Fairbanks, Alaska with the 172nd Battalion Stryker Brigade. After a short stay in Fairbanks, a month long tour then began at Fort Polk, La. with the Joint Readiness Training Center Program, where he trained in desert warfare and advanced convoy mission training. Dustin received an Army Achievement Medal and was promoted to Specialist after only 12 months of service time. In August 2005, Dustin was deployed to Iraq, where he took tremendous pride in serving his country. While serving in Iraq, Dustin received numerous awards including, a Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Parachutist Badge, Combat Action Badge and Weapons Qualification Badge. His fellow comrades and friends have communicated to his family that he was an excellent soldier and that they felt privileged to have known and served with him. Special services were held in Iraq and Alaska honoring Dustin prior to the services that will be held in his hometown of Patten. Dustin is survived by his proud and loving family, parents, Lorna and Scott Harris; one younger brother, Dylan; paternal grandparents, Rodney and Esther Harris, all of Patten; maternal grandparents, James and Sandra Troutt of Sherman; great-grandmother, Bernice Bradgon of Bangor; special aunts and uncles, Todd and Michelle Troutt of Hermon, Debbie and Kemp Coolong of Patten and Lynn and Duane Merry of Sherman; cousins, Eric Davenport and his wife, Billie, of Medway, Emily Davenport and boyfriend, Nick Winchester, of Hampden, Tellis Coolong of Bangor, Melissa Coolong of Orono and his little “buddy” Jett Troutt of Hermon. Dustin leaves behind many other special relatives, friends and classmates who will dearly miss him. Dustin took pride in everything he did from school projects, to soccer, spending time with family and friends and jobs held during high school and college years. Dustin touched so many people’s lived that he will certainly be sadly missed and never forgotten by family, friends, community and this country. A celebration of Dustin’s life will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, April 15, at the Katahdin Elementary School, Stacyville, with a private family committal service being held at the Patten Cemetery. A time of fellowship will be held immediately following. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a special fund set up in memory of Spc. Dustin J. Harris, which will be used to support local projects, charities and scholarships, to be later determined by members of Dustin’s family. Donation envelopes will be available at the services or can be sent to Bangor Savings Bank, P.O. Box 400, Bangor ME 04402-0400. Arrangements by Bowers Funeral Home, Island Falls. To our “Mighty Paratrooper”, we love, honor and respect you. May you rest in peace at your post in paradise.