Ken Kalthoff, NBCDFW.com
A Mesquite soldier died over the weekend while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Department of Defense reported Harris died from wounds he suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with a rocket-propelled grenade.
"He was a very loving, outgoing person -- very, very big-hearted," said his twin sister, Ashley Harris. "He was like an angel."
His father, T.C. Harris, a Vietnam War veteran, said he was decorating a Christmas tree at his Rowlett home when news of his son's death arrived over the weekend.
"We had a beautiful holiday, and 10 minutes later, officers walked through the door, and it all came to a screeching halt," he said. "I couldn’t put up another ornament on the tree. It just took the life out of me."
But he said his son would want his family to celebrate the holidays despite his death.
"He was a joy to be around, and I do appreciate the Good Lord from letting me have him 24 years," he said.
Ashley Harris said her brother played the violin in the orchestra at Skyline High School in Dallas. He loved to sing and was a devout Christian.
Harris was assigned to the Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 10th Mountain Division, at Ft. Polk, La. where he was a combat engineer.
Harris graduated from Skyline High School and attended Southwestern Christian College in Terrell before joining the Army in August 2009. He was deployed to Afghanistan in October for his first tour of combat duty.
Harris was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.
His parents said military service was a way for him to pay for the rest of his college education, which would help him reach his ultimate goal of becoming a history teacher.
But his brother, Chris Johnson, said he was a good fit in the Army, too.
"It actually wasn’t a stretch," he said. "Devon, although he wanted to be a history teacher -- you always knew Devon would be one of those no-nonsense-type teachers."