LETTER: As ‘Uncle Roy’ came home, his village gave a fitting salute

Boy Scouts carried a portrait of Roy Harms on May 6 in a procession past more than 500 people who lined Grafton streets in honor of the Army Air Force lieutenant who was killed in World War II. Ozaukee Press file photo


To Ozaukee Press:

They say it takes a village. The Village of Grafton represents the spirit of this and the very best of the fabric of the United States of America. On behalf of the Harms-Murphy family, my wife Dona and I wish to extend heartfelt thanks to everyone who honored the sacrifice and embraced the return after 80 years of Uncle Roy to his home on May 6.

The overwhelming community respect represented at the funeral for Roy Harms was made possible by the dedicated efforts of Allen Buchholz, Ken Kasprczak, Linda Faas, Sue Turowski and so many others at the Rose-Harms American Legion Post, including the Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion.

Others who helped make this tribute possible include Craig and Mike with the Mueller Funeral Home; the Grafton Boy Scouts; Ozaukee and Grafton Historical Societies; Grafton Department of Public Works; local law enforcement and fire department, especially Grafton Chief Caponera; and the Legion Riders who escorted Roy home and stood at attention as he made one last journey.

As our family walked in the procession along the streets lined with folks from near and far who waved their flags, placed hands over their hearts, shed tears and expressed their deeply moving condolences, our family was embraced with the power and strength of a community, including the WWII veterans still with us, who never forgot Roy and continue to pass down his legacy.

Roy’s return home began with the steadfast determination of LeRoy Paulin, who also served in WWII and for decades investigated and honored his best friend’s sacrifice for freedom. LeRoy’s mission was carried on by the support of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. The DPAA is charged with providing the fullest possible accounting for our missing military personnel and is fully committed to returning those lost in service to our country.

A decade has passed since my mother, Roy’s youngest sister, Laura Harms Murphy, and I provided the agency our DNA after a major general made it a priority to identify those lost during a 1943 mission to bomb the German oil fields in Ploesti, Romania.

Tragically, Roy would not return alive from that mission, and my mother, who passed in 2020, would not live to see Roy return home.

Though that direct family connection to Roy was lost to us on Earth, we hold on tight to all that my mom shared with so many of us about Uncle Roy. We also find incredible comfort in what we learned from Grafton’s tribute—that Roy’s legacy will live on long after all of us.

Roy Coulson Harms was a true American hero, and the efforts of so many folks here in Grafton will make sure that the honor and pure character of my uncle will be passed on to future generations, whether it is by the simple but powerful act of bringing their families to Roy’s funeral, through education activities carried out by the Boy Scouts and Sons of the American Legion, by the stewards who preserve and promote the history of the Harms home and by the stories shared by those here in Grafton.

We hope that the love and respect directed to Uncle Roy is also showered upon all the veterans who have honorably served our country, both those living and those who have passed, including my father Myron Murphy and uncles Ulrich Horton, Bob Robison and John Gerholt, who also served in WWII but by the grace of God returned. Please continue to honor the service of those who have and continue to serve and cherish those still with us.

Timothy Harms Murphy

Prescott, Ariz.


Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login