Senate Committee Advances Bill to Name Building After Vietnam War Veteran Colonel Carlyle ‘Smitty’ Harris

U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., today cheered committee approval of legislation to rename the U.S. post office at 500 West Main Street in Tupelo after Mississippi native and Vietnam War veteran Colonel Carlyle “Smitty” Harris. Wicker and Hyde-Smith sent a letter last week to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs encouraging Chairman Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Ranking Member Rob Portman, R-Ohio, to pass the proposal swiftly.

“It is impossible for this gesture to render adequate thanks to Colonel Harris for the years of suffering he endured on behalf of our nation,” the senators wrote. “However, this post office designation would duly recognize him as an American hero worthy of emulation. We urge swift passage of this bill.”

Renaming the post office would honor Colonel Harris’s military service and sacrifice on behalf of Mississippi and his country.

 “During the Vietnam War, communist soldiers captured Colonel Harris and brought him to Hóa Lò Prison, commonly known as the ‘Hanoi Hotel’ – North Vietnam’s inhumane holding place for American Prisoners of War (POW). Throughout nearly eight years in brutal captivity, Colonel Harris never wavered in his conduct and set an example for his fellow POWs,” the senators continued.

Committee passage clears the bill for consideration by the full Senate. U.S. Representative Trent Kelly, R-Miss., introduced the legislation, which passed the House of Representatives in February.

View the text of the letter here or below:

Dear Chairman Peters and Ranking Member Portman,

We write to express our full support of H.R. 208, which would designate the United States Postal Service located at 500 West Main Street, Suite 102 in Tupelo, Mississippi, as the “Colonel Carlyle ‘Smitty’ Harris Post Office.” The renaming of this post office would acknowledge the military service of Colonel Carlyle “Smitty” Harris and the sacrifices he made on behalf of Mississippi and our nation.

 During the Vietnam War, communist soldiers captured Colonel Harris and brought him to Hóa Lò Prison, commonly known as the “Hanoi Hotel” – North Vietnam’s inhumane holding place for American Prisoners of War (POW). Throughout nearly eight years in brutal captivity, Colonel Harris never wavered in his conduct and set an example for his fellow POWs. In fact, he taught fellow prisoners how to communicate through Morse code, providing hope and a source of group cohesion. After his release, Colonel Harris reunited with his wife and children in Tupelo, Mississippi, where he is active in a wide range of civic efforts. 

It is impossible for this gesture to render adequate thanks to Colonel Harris for the years of suffering he endured on behalf of our nation. However, this post office designation would duly recognize him as an American hero worthy of emulation. We urge swift passage of this bill.

 Thank you for closely considering our request.

Press Release

3/17/2021