Harry Benjamin Bright, a retired physical education teacher ,, and an Army veteran who received a Purple Heart after the B-24 bomber he was serving on crashed during World War II, died Friday from complications of heart disease at Carroll County General Hospital. He was 68.
Mr. Bright joined the U.S. Army Air Corps after graduating from Patterson Park High School in 1944. He served in the South Pacific Theater and acted as a gunnery sergeant.
He sustained burns when the B-24 bomber he was serving on crashed.
"They were low on gas, and the engine quit," said his wife, Charlotte "Char-lee" Heagy Bright. "He said they were too young to be scared, too young and dumb."
Mr. Bright and his wife, who married in December 1948, lived in Westminster.
Mr. Bright enrolled at Western Maryland College in 1946, majoring in physical education and history.
He graduated in 1950, then taught for a short time at Stemmers Run Junior High School in Baltimore County before he was called back to active duty during the Korean War. He served for 15 months at Fort Knox, Ky.
In 1953, he joined the Maryland Army National Guard as a second lieutenant. He became a lieutenant colonel and commanded an infantry division in Baltimore.
In 1975, he left the National Guard and joined the Army Reserve, where he was promoted to colonel.
When he retired from the military -- he had received 12 medals -- he returned to teaching physical education in Baltimore County schools.
He also taught at Towson Towne Junior High, Franklin Junior High and Pikesville Junior High schools. He retired from the Baltimore County public school system in 1980.
Mr. Bright was a member of the National Education Association; the Maryland Retired Teachers' Association; Retired Teachers Association of Baltimore County; Retired Officers Association; Westminster Elks Lodge No. 2277; the American Legion, Carroll Post No. 31; and the National Guard Association.
He attended St. John Roman Catholic Church of Westminster.
He was to have been honored in May at Patterson Park High School for designing and making the school's flag in 1944 with the help of his sister.
"They moved the kitchen table and used a big sheet," his wife recalled of the flag's fabrication. "He drew and painted, and she held it."
Although Mr. Bright had no formal art training, he was a talented artist, fluent in pastels, water colors and other media.
Mr. Bright collected baseball cards and other items. He also liked fishing and traveling.
He was born Sept. 18, 1925, in East Baltimore.
At Patterson Park High, he was on the track team and played football.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. John in Westminster. Interment will be at Krider's Church Cemetery.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by three sons, Gregory Bright of Westminster, Matthew Bright of Lynchburg, Va., and Christopher Bright of Baltimore; a daughter, Leslee Bright of Baltimore; a brother, Gen. Elmer F. Bright of Timonium; a sister, ,, Elizabeth Catterton of Baltimore; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be made to the Carroll County General Hospital Critical Care Unit, Memorial Drive, Westminster 21157.