Biden signs bill to name post office after Vietnam veteran “Smitty” Harris

Retired Air Force Col. Carlyle "Smitty" Harris (US Air Force/Released)

The U.S. Post Office on West Main Street in Tupelo will soon be named in honor of a decorated war veteran.

President Joe Biden on Friday signed a bill into law that would name the Northeast Mississippi post office the Colonel Carlyle “Smitty” Harris Post Office.

Harris is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel whose plane was shot down over North Vietnam on April 4, 1965, during the Vietnam War. Harris was then captured by the North Vietnamese army and became a prisoner of war for nearly eight years.

While in captivity, Harris developed a method of communication he used between other prisoners called the “tap code.” He covertly taught the code to other prisoners of war, and they, in turn, taught it to others.

Harris’ story of courage and perseverance during his captivity is told in the book “Tap Code,” co-authored by Harris and Tupelo-based writer Sara Berry.

The bill naming the post office after Harris was introduced by U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Saltillo, and cosponsored by the rest of the state delegation in the House.

“Despite dire living conditions, Col. Harris introduced the tap code to his fellow POWs to secretly communicate between cells,” Kelly previously said in a statement. “During his time in captivity, letters he wrote to his wife, Louise, were delivered to the Tupelo Post Office. I am thankful for the support from members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate in this endeavor to honor a great American Patriot.”


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