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D. Bruce Lockerbie

Lt. Gen. William K. Harrison Jr. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

By D. Bruce Lockerbie

Last week’s diplomatic incident in Korea’s Demilitarized Zone, when a young U.S. soldier crossed into North Korea “willfully and without authorization” according to the Pentagon, reminds us that “the Forgotten War” is not yet ended, even though July 27 marks the 70th anniversary of a truce signed on the Korean peninsula.

On that date, in 1953, at Panmunjom on the 38th parallel, delegates from warring nations met to declare a pause in combat. Representing the United Nations was an American named Lt. Gen. William K. Harrison Jr. Because of his unashamed religious faith and testimony, he became known worldwide as “the Bible-quoting general,” not always intended as a compliment by his political and pacifist critics.

Three years earlier, the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea invaded the Western-backed Republic of Korea (South Korea), which the United Nations voted to defend. Led by the United States and commanded by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, 6.8 million Americans served; fewer than 1 million remain alive today.

But MacArthur advocated action opposed by President Harry S. Truman and was stripped of his command. A military stalemate ensued, futile negotiations stalled and presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower promised to go to Korea to resolve the conflict.

But who was Billy Harrison, two years behind Ike at West Point? As a cadet, then an officer — whether in peacetime or combat — Harrison was notable for his quiet but earnest Christian faith, disciplined by early morning Bible reading and prayer, yet his brothers-in-arms knew better than to mistake religious devotion for weakness.

World War II

Harrison and Eisenhower had been members of the War Plans Division, charged with reorganizing the Army’s high command immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack. Harrison produced the model eventually approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

As assistant commander of the 30th Infantry Division, Harrison was fearless in battle, leading from his jeep through hedgerows and villages of Europe. Following D-Day, Harrison devised the plan to free Allied troops trapped on the Normandy peninsula. Later in the battle at Mortain, after an attack by “friendly fire,” he gathered his scattered forces to achieve victory, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross — the second highest decoration for military valor.

Harrison was more than a war hero, he was also a humanitarian. In April 1945, he and his task force came upon a train whose boxcars held 2,500 Jews abandoned by their concentration camp guards, eager to hide their guilt. According to the “Holocaust Encyclopedia,” “the 30th Infantry Division then initiated efforts to find shelter for the former prisoners so that they could be moved away from the filthy, jammed, evil-smelling railroad cars.”


After Japan’s defeat, MacArthur chose Harrison as chief of reparations, the nasty job of “getting even” for Japanese atrocities. Harrison had no desire for sheer revenge and appealed to MacArthur with an alternative — namely, distributing copies of the Bible or selected texts.

He also invited former prisoners of war, such as Louis Zamperini, Olympic runner and raft survivor, to return to Japan as evangelists. Among their converts was Capt. Mitsuo Fuchida, the pilot who had led the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Korean War

When the Korean War began, Harrison commanded the base at Fort Dix, New Jersey, preparing raw recruits for combat in Korea. Yearning for a battlefield role, he contented himself with making soldiers out of civilians and ending racial segregation in housing and training at Fort Dix — effectively throughout the U.S. Army. 

His eventual assignment in Korea was disappointing. Sent to be a member of the United Nations truce team, he was frustrated because every session consisted of the enemy’s harangue and propaganda. But in May 1952, when Harrison became senior delegate, the pattern changed. Even The New York Times, hostile to his efforts, noted: “From the start of his tenure as a negotiator in Korea, General Harrison had a style of talking bluntly or not at all. He appeared in open-collar khaki shirts, refusing to wear a dress uniform to face opponents he regarded with contempt as ‘common criminals.’ He walked out of the truce tent in June 1952, leaving General Nam Il of North Korea flabbergasted.”

Refusing to change tactics, an even greater surprise awaited the Communists when Harrison led a second exit for three days, then for 10 days; on Oct. 8, 1952, Harrison and his team left for more than six months.

Worldwide media excoriated Harrison, whose purpose was to deprive North Korean and Chinese propagandists of an audience for their lies about who had instigated the violation of the 38th parallel.

By April 26, 1953, the North Korean/Chinese delegation chose serious bargaining, accelerated by Eisenhower’s election and his military record.

The signing ceremony three months later could not have been less dramatic, lasting only 12 minutes. Harrison jumped off a helicopter, saluted his UN guard, seated himself at the table — Nam Il at an adjoining table — and signed copies in English, Korean and Chinese. Then, he rose and left Panmunjom for the last time.

Newspapers around the world headlined the story. Lt. Gen. William K. Harrison Jr. treated his role with self-effacing modesty: He had merely done his duty to the best of his ability.


After retirement in 1957, Harrison spent the next three decades as executive or trustee for religious organizations, including president of Officers’ Christian Fellowship and board member at The Stony Brook School, where his younger son, the late Terry Harrison, was both an alumnus and faculty member.

During World War II, Gen. Harrison expressed professional respect for the common German soldier — distinct from SS or other Nazi-politicized officers. Citing his contempt for Chinese and North Korean officials, one can only suppose what might have been his attitude toward policies of subsequent American presidents — Nixon through Biden — in dealing with Kim Il Sung and his successors, including Kim Jong Un. 

No doubt, Billy Harrison would not have worn a tie for any of them either. He reported to a higher power. 

D. Bruce Lockerbie, a longtime resident of the Three Villages, is the author of more than 40 books, including “A Man Under Orders: Lieutenant General William K. Harrison, Jr.” (Harper & Row, 1979).

A scene from Theatre Three's 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat'

By D. Bruce Lockerbie

D. Bruce Lockerbie

I see that Theatre Three is staging a production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” highly praised by this newspaper’s critic. It’s one of our favorite musicals for both entertainment and personal reasons. We’ve seen several versions of the musical, including the 1982 Broadway production along with several school shows, and we look forward to seeing it again. Here’s why.

In 1974, our family was finishing a sabbatical year in Cambridge, England. The leave granted me by The Stony Brook School had given Lory and me an opportunity to take our three teenagers around the world — Asia, the Indian sub-continent, Africa, Israel, Europe, then Great Britain, where we settled for the final five months. 

The British academic calendar extends into early summer, and so we attended several of Cambridge University’s college plays —Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Charley’s Aunt, and other standard student productions. 

But the most memorable was a show we’d never heard of, staged in a small theatre in Market Square. According to its publicity, this was an ever-expanding trial run of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat from its origins as a cantata being prepared for entry as a musical in the forthcoming Edinburgh Festival later that summer. 

It was a modest production: No orchestra, just two pianos, on one of which the 26-year old composer Andrew Lloyd Webber pounded out his catchy tunes. We loved the show and bought the newly released LP recording, which we played until its grooves wore thin. “Hey, hey, hey, Joseph, you know what they say?” and “Any dream will do” remain in memory. 

Three decades later, our older son Don — one of those teenagers — had grown into an international sports event producer, involved in staging FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games and the Super Bowl, among other events. In 2007, he was in charge of Cricket World Cup, hosted by nine nations in the West Indies. Lory and I went to see the matches being played in Saint Kitts, pitting Australia, Holland, Scotland, and South Africa against each other. Fans from around the world joined us to support the game the British Empire made popular.

A scene from Theatre Three’s ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’

As parents of the man most responsible for the tournament, we were seated with various dignitaries in the St. Kitt’s President’s box.  

One afternoon, as lunchtime arrived and the match was solemnly suspended, we made our way to the dining area adjacent to the cricket grounds. Don whispered to me, “Do you know who’s just ahead of you? Sir Tim Rice.” 

The food line was moving slowly, so I took the opportunity to introduce my wife and me to the knighted lyricist and collaborator with Lloyd Webber. He was gracious, asking what a pair of Americans was doing at a World Cup cricket match. I explained why, then went on to say, “We saw one of your early productions of Joseph in a Cambridge theatre in 1974.”

“Did you recognize me in the cast?” he asked.

“No, not that I recall . . .,” I admitted.

“I was Pharaoh,” he replied with great laughter.

“Oh, I get it! The King!” I said, and we went on to enjoy lunch together. ‘

Those of you who have already seen the local or any other production of Joseph will understand the double joke that opens Act II of the show. I won’t spoil it for the rest of you.

During our meal, Sir Tim talked about how gifted his composer-collaborator is and told this story: One day, Andrew sat at a piano and played a few measures of a new song for his father, the organist-composer William Lloyd Webber. “What does that sound like?” the son asked his father, who replied, “It sounds like five billion pounds (money) to me!” The tune became “Memory” in the show Cats. “Andrew’s father was prophetic,” said Tim Rice.

We have our Theatre Three tickets for later this month. See you there.

D. Bruce Lockerbie, a longtime resident of the Three Villages, is the author/editor of 40 books and heads an international educational consulting agency called PAIDEIA, Inc.

D. Bruce Lockerbie and his wife, Lory, pose for an Easter Sunday photo. Photo above from D. Bruce Lockerbie

A familiar face in the Three Village area is receiving a special honor from his college alma mater.

On May 4, East Setauket’s D. Bruce Lockerbie will be inducted into the New York University Department of Athletics, Intramurals and Recreation Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as a member of its men’s cross country and track and field teams, during a reception at NYU’s Kimmel Center. Lockerbie majored in English and religion at NYU and graduated in 1956.

Bruce Lockerbie during his days on the New York University track and field and cross country teams. Photo from New York University

“Bruce Lockerbie’s accomplishments as a member of the NYU cross country and track teams have stood the test of time and rank him among the greats to ever don the NYU violet,” said Christopher Bledsoe, NYU assistant vice president for student affairs and director of athletics. “We celebrate Dr. Lockerbie’s achievements and look forward to a special afternoon in May.”

Lockerbie, 83, said he was surprised and humbled when he heard about the induction, especially since the university counts numerous world record holders in track and field.

“I thought it was an April Fools joke in September,” he said, adding he had good teammates with him during his stint in track and field.

Among his college successes were his team being named the Penn Relays Distance Medley Relay and Spring Medley Relay champions and winning the bronze medal at an NCAA cross country event, both in 1955. He was also the Canadian Indoor Track and Field 1,000 yards champion in 1956 and missed qualifying for Canada’s Olympic team the same year due to illness on the day of the trials.

Lockerbie was born in Canada and moved to the U.S. as a junior in high school when his father accepted a position as pastor at Bay Ridge Baptist Church in Brooklyn. He soon found himself running for Fort Hamilton High School’s team.

“This is a key time in my life,” he said.

Lockerbie said he almost didn’t attend NYU after high school. The son of Depression-era parents who dropped out of school to work, the former runner said he had no college expectations and didn’t apply to any schools. It was his high school coach who gave him advice at a New York City championship race that changed his life.

“He said, ‘Run the race of your life kid, and maybe God has a surprise for you,’” Lockerbie said.

It was apparent that the surprise was in store, as an NYU coach discovered him, and he received a four-year scholarship.

“It absolutely changed and shaped my life,” he said.

Lockerbie said he doesn’t believe he would have attended college if it wasn’t for that fateful day. After graduation, he would go on to teach and coach at Wheaton College in Illinois and then at The Stony Brook School for 34 years. He was recruited by the headmaster at the time, Frank E. Gaebelein, who had the same coach as him at NYU.

Jane Taylor, former assistant head of The Stony Brook School, who has known Lockerbie since 1973, described the ex-track star as an Energizer bunny. Through the years, she said, he took on many administration roles at the school including chair of the English department, dean of faculty and being involved in various committees.

“He said, ‘Run the race of your life kid, and maybe God has a surprise for you.'”

— D. Bruce Lockerbie

As head of the international consulting team Paideia, Inc. since 1991, she said Lockerbie is well-respected for his educational consultations and workshops she described as thought-provoking.

Taylor added she also remembered him as the kind of coach who actively engaged and ran with his students, and he would carefully look at the running times he felt each student was capable of running.

“His athletes rose to the occasion,” she said.

As for running, it’s something Lockerbie had to give up after a heart attack in 1982, he said, when his doctor told him he would miss his son’s wedding that was scheduled a few days after but would be around for his grandchildren’s.

Despite the setback, Lockerbie said he kept his competitive edge and took up golfing, even winning a car in the past for getting a hole-in-one.

“I just had to replace it,” he said. “Chinese checkers wouldn’t have been as challenging.”

Lockerbie and his wife Lory, who have been married since 1956, have lived in the Three Village area for 62 years where they raised three children. In addition to his successes in track and field and cross country, Lockerbie is the author, co-author and editor of 40 books, and he and his wife are active parishioners in the Caroline Church of Brookhaven.

When it comes to the May 4 induction ceremony at NYU’s Kimmel Center, Lockerbie said he is looking forward to it, and he is still grateful for his time at the university.

“It’s a case of a university having expressed its faith in me, when I was utterly a nobody, and giving me the opportunity to affect other people’s lives all these years in the profession of education,” he said. “The appropriate sentiment is humbling, and I’m grateful.”