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Harris Fitness Center named after local hero

Larry Harris (left), brother of 2nd Lt. Everett Harris, and Larry Harris Jr., nephew of Everett, visit a plaque dedicated to Everett at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., June 8, 2013. On Nov. 14, 1966, the Harris Fitness Center was named after Everett a P-38 Lightning reconnaissance pilot who was killed in action during World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bobby Cummings/Released)

Larry Harris (left), brother of 2nd Lt. Everett Harris, and Larry Harris Jr., nephew of Everett, visit a plaque dedicated to Everett at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., June 8, 2013. On Nov. 14, 1966, the Harris Fitness Center was named after Everett a P-38 Lightning reconnaissance pilot who was killed in action during World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bobby Cummings/Released)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Harris Fitness Center here has existed for decades. The Harris gymnasium was dedicated on Nov. 14, 1966, in memory of 2nd Lt. Everett Luther Harris, whose P-38 Lightning aircraft was shot down over Italy during World War II.

On June 8, 2013, Everett's younger brother Larry Harris at the age of 88 decided it was time to make a return visit here and witness firsthand what the gymnasium had become.

"Having this facility dedicated in my brother's name was and is a great honor for myself and my family," Harris said. "We are very proud our family name is represented on the gymnasium at Beale."

Everett's and Larry's grandparents were pioneer settlers in nearby Sutter County. Everett was born in Sutter County on May 18, 1919. He graduated from Yuba High School and attended Yuba College.

"It is fitting an athletic facility was named after Everett," Larry said. "He was the pitcher for the high school baseball team. He took up the rare sport of fencing as well. He really enjoyed competition."

Everett enlisted in the Reserve Corps on Oct. 8, 1942, and reported for active duty on Feb. 19, 1943. On March 11, 1944, Everett received an honorable discharge to accept a commission as an aviation cadet. Seven months later he departed for Italy with the Army Air Corps.

He arrived to Italy Nov. 6, 1944, and was assigned to the 14th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron conducting unarmed photographic reconnaissance. Less than two weeks later on his first flying mission Everett was killed in action at the age of 25 on Nov. 18, 1944.

Everett's last words were, "I'm hit; I'm going in," Larry said.