Colonel David Harris, a graduate of BYU’s Mechanical Engineering program, has been promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in the United States Air Force.
Harris was nominated by the President of the United States on December 14, 2010, and pinned on the one-star rank in an official ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, on August 19, 2011.
Harris graduated from BYU Magna Cum Laude in 1986 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering, with minors in Aerospace Studies and Mathematics. He also completed BYU’s Air Force ROTC program as a distinguished graduate. He has held various assignments in flying units including Instructor and Evaluator, Electronic Warfare Officer in the EF-111A, and Experimental Flight Test Weapon Systems officer in the B-1B. He has served as a Legislative Fellow with the 106th US Congress and in a joint staff assignment as Chief of Current Operations at U.S. Forces, Japan. He served as director of the Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force and commanded the 419th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, California. He is also a graduate of Air War College, and has served as Deputy Director of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate and as Special Assistant for Base Realignment and Closure at Headquarters AFMC. Harris also served as Commander of the 46th Test Group at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. He is experienced in multiple aircraft weapons systems, is a master combat systems officer with more than 2,000 flying hours, and has combat experience in the EF-111. Harris currently serves as the Vice Commander at the Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
The pinning ceremony was officiated by Major General C.R. Davis, Air Armament Center Commander and Program Executive Officer for Weapons. It was Davis’ final official duty prior to his change of command later that afternoon. “I could not stress any more what a big deal this is,” Davis said. “It’s not about what he’s done in the past; that only gets you to the starting line. It’s about what the Air Force needs in the future. Dave has the background, knowledge, and direction that define him as a leader in the Air Force.”
“I am honored both personally and professionally by this nomination, and I look forward to continuing to serve the Air Force and the nation as a Brigadier General,” Harris commented. He joked that all the praise made him feel “like Tom Sawyer at his own funeral.” He choked up several times as he talked about his family, friends and fellow classmates from Test Pilot School in the audience.
“It humbles me. I’m so happy and blessed to have all of you supporting me,” said Harris. “It’s not about me; it is the recognition of years and years of careful preparation and people looking out to help me along all through my childhood, college years, and professional life.”
Harris’ wife, Valene, and his four daughters made the promotion official by pinning the one star on his uniform. Harris said his girls are the secret to his success.