Army Specialist Chris Harris was killed by in improvised explosive device (IED) on August 2, 2017 while serving in Afghanistan. The 25-year-old from North Carolina was an 82nd Airborne Division Paratrooper assigned to 2nd Battalion, 504th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg. Sergeant Jonathon Hunter, 23, of Columbus, Indiana was also killed in the explosion.
Spc. Chris Harris’ death came just weeks after he and his wife found out that they were expecting their first child.
Chris’ widow, Britt Harris, soon found out that she was going to have a baby girl. Christian Michelle Harris was born on March 17, 2018. At two months old, Britt decided to get newborn photos taken of her daughter, but they wouldn’t be alone. Members from Chris Harris’ unit in the 82nd Airborne Division stood in for their fallen brother in the most heartbreakingly beautiful photographs.
In the photographs, two-month-old Christian Harris is seen being held, cuddled and loved by the soldiers who served alongside her father. While the soldiers were in their dress uniforms, young Christian was wearing a shirt that read “My Daddy’s my hero” along with his name.
“It’s refreshing to see those blue eyes again,” Britt said in an interview, noting that Christian looks just like her dad.
“He was an unforgettable personality,” Britt said to ABC News of Chris. “Being in the Army was his second biggest goal in life. Number one was being a dad.”
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Pinehurst Photography in North Carolina took the amazing and emotional photographs, with Kendra Lee and Erin Brady as photographers and makeup.
“While this story has been emotional for us from day one, we promised Britt that we’d help her tell the world about her hero. We took that promise very seriously and quickly wiped way any tears so we could do the best job possible to bring honor to this incredible family,” Pinehurst Photography said. “Living in a military community we often take photos for military funerals. We never charge, and never use them for advertisements. They are a way for us, as non service members, to give back to our community.”
In one of the most touching photographs from the photoshoot is of Christian being held in the hands of the soldiers as they form a complete circle around her. Posted to Facebook, the caption was a quote from Mimi Novic: “Sometimes all we need to soothe our soul and ease our burdens is the loving hand of a friend gently touching our heart and lifting us towards love.”
In October, 2017, Britt included Chris’ Army unit in the baby’s gender reveal. While they were still stationed over in Afghanistan, Britt sent them party canisters that the soldiers were to open, revealing either blue confetti for a boy or pink confetti for a girl. In the video, the soldiers immediately jump in excitement when they saw Chris’ child would be a girl.
“Knowing that we could come home to a baby girl, that was awesome,” Sgt. Nathan Arthur Bagley told WTVD. “When everyone came home, that was the day she was born so that made it 10 times better.”
“Everyone that I’ve met, before Chris passed and after, if they’re in the military, they’ve treated me like actual family, or royalty, actually,” said Britt Harris.
A crowdfunding page was set up by Kendra Lee of Pinehurst Photography to help Britt with the costs of raising Christian, with the local community and the public generously giving to the Gold Star family after hearing their story.
Spc. Chris Harris’ brothers-in-arms are continuing to step in as any brother would for support and care, and they’ll be there in the years to come to let young Christian Harris know exactly what kind of a hero her father was.
Jacob H. is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist who currently resides is West Michigan with his wife. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys writing, photography, mountain climbing, and camping.