Both father and son served in the military and both were awarded the state decoration. However, circumstances of the sons award is what really makes this group not just unusual but interesting. I have never heard of a state decoration awarded to a member of a foreign military. Here are their bios;
Harrison K. Bird Sr. & Jr. New York National Guard & Canadian Army.
Harrison Bird Sr. was born in 1874 in New York. He entered the National Guard as a Second Lieutenant in 1897 and was assigned to D-Co., 171st Regiment. He served stateside with this unit during the Spanish American War. On December 22nd, 1900, Harrison Bird was appointed as Governor Odell’s Military Secretary and promoted to the rank of Major. During the First World War, he was promoted to Colonel and worked in the Ordinance Department. Harrison was awarded numerous state awards such as the Long & Faithful Service Medal and Conspicuous Service Cross; he was also awarded the French Medal of Gratitude in gold and the Italian Order of the Crown Officers Class. During the Second World War, Harrison Bird was in command of the Civilian Defense in a Washington County. His final rank achieved was Brigadier General.
In the private sector Harrison Sr. Graduated from Columbia University in 1896, in 1959 he received the Pupin Science award from the university. Harrison Sr. was formally a member of the New York Stock Exchange and treasurer of the New York State Republican Committee. He was also a collector of antique China. He died after a short illness on May 22nd, 1961 and is buried in the Gillette Cemetery in Whitehall, New York.
Harrison K. Bird Jr. was born in the year 1910 in New York City. In 1940, He traveled to Thunder Bay, Canada to enlist into the Canadian Army. He was enrolled in the First Survey Regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery, and was soon in England training. Harrison Jr. was one of the first soldiers trained on the new invention of “Azdic” or “Radar”. According to Nick Curcumelli-Rodostamo, a personal friend of Bird’s, “Harrison hated the training, because he hated math”.
Harrison used those skills to help direct anti-aircraft guns defending Britain. Harrison Bird Jr. rose to the rank of Sergeant before he was able to enter officer training. After he went through officers training, Harrison Jr. was assigned to A-Co., Lake Superior Regiment (Motor),also known as “Lake Soups”. His regiment was the infantry component of the Fourth Canadian Armoured Brigade, which consisted of three armoured regiments and one infantry battalion assigned primarily to support the 21’s Armoured Regiment – The Governor General’s Foot Guards.
The Lake Soups joined the Normandy Campaign just after the liberation of Caen. Their first engagement was just south of the city. They continued to push the Nazis back at Cinatheaux, The “Falaise Gap”, Leopold Canal, and Antwerp.
On January 17th, 1945, The Lake Superior Regiment commanded by Lt.-Col. R. A. Keane, sent A-Co. across in daylight to raid the village of Hoenza-Driel, on the north bank of the river Maas, north-east of 's-Hertogenbosch. The objective of Operation "Schultz" was to establish the identity of the enemy holding this sector of the front by capturing two or more prisoners.
The raid was very heavily supported: not only the tanks of the three armoured regiments of the 4th Armoured Brigade, but also two field regiments and one medium regiment of artillery fired, in addition to mortars and medium machine-guns. The company commander was wounded soon after landing. Lieutenant Harrison K. Bird took command and directed the rest of the operation and the withdrawal of the company, including 3 prisoners. For his actions, Lt. Harrison was awarded the Military Cross. On April 27th, 1945, Lt. Bird was lightly wounded during The advance to the North Sea. Harrison Bird remained over seas during the occupation and was promoted to Captain. In June 1947, he was presented with the New York Conspicuous Service Cross during a ceremony at the Fort Ticonderoga Museum.
In the private sector, Harrison Jr. was a lifelong competitive swimmer and member of the New York Athletic Club. He attended Miss Bovee's School, earning highest recognition for perfect attendance before graduating from Deerfield Academy in 1929. He went to study at Williams College. Harrison Jr. lived and worked in Europe for Knoedler & Co, and The Hearst Family.
Harrison had a passion for military history and has written five novels on Adirondack Military History. He became a curator of uniforms and equipment at the Fort Ticonderoga Museum. According to Nick Curcumelli-Rodostamo, “Harrison had an affinity for bulldogs, and always had one as a pet. One named Maas, after river”.
Harrison was involved with many organizations; the Lake George Park Commission, Grace Chapel of Sabbath Day Point, and The St. Anthony Society, and Lake Superior Regiment Association. Harrison Bird Jr. died on July 6th, 2003 at the Fort Hudson Nursing Home.