Auburn High School graduate Dustin Harrison had the type of dangerous, adventurous, top-secret job that Tom Cruise might play in a movie. His job as an expert civilian contract pilot for the U.S. Dept. of Defense didn't allow him to share details of the anti-terror spy missions he flew around the world with anyone.
“It was like he kind of led a secret life,” said Troy Harrison, Dustin’s brother, who lives in Fife.
“I’m hearing from people that flew with my brother, and they said he was as good as they get,” Harrison said. “He’s one of the best pilots they’d ever seen. They’re flying into the most dangerous areas in the world.”
On Sunday, Dustin’s plane was preparing to fly from a highly-fortified airfield in Kenya, when it was destroyed by a missile during an attack by the Al-Shabaab terrorist-group--which is linked to Al-Qaeda in Somalia.
The predawn raid also killed a US Army Specialist Henry Mayfield Jr. and another civilian contract worker.
Since he heard the devastating news, Troy says he's been hearing from other U.S. service members who say Dustin's service to our country was immeasurable.
“He saved lives,” Harrison said. “He was a hero. You hear some of the things he did, and it’s like, 'I never knew that. He loved his country. He loved his wife, he loved his daughter.”
Dustin recently made a home in Arizona with his wife Hope and their two-year-old daughter, Heaven, and his family says he was making plans to come home for good.
“This last tour, he was thinking this probably would be his last one,” Harrison said. “He would do anything for this country, and you know, he paid the ultimate price.”
Because Dustin was not a member of the military, he will not receive military honors. Troy says his silent sacrifice for freedom should be known.
“I would just like for people to pay their respects to him,” he said.
A Memorial for Dustin Harrison will be held at his alma mater, Auburn High School, on January 26th at 1 p.m.
A Go Fund Me page has been established for his widow and daughter.