Perhaps because it was wartime, the young couple didn’t waste any time and were married soon after that meeting, on September 22, 1943. They wed in Florida when Peggy was just 18 and Billie 21. Peggy recalled, “I didn’t even have money to buy him a wedding ring. I used my Vernon High School class ring instead, and he wore it as his wedding ring.”
The young couple had hoped for a fortnight’s honeymoon but the war got in the way. Billie and the rest of his unit were unexpectedly called to Tallahassee, while Peggy and the other wives were put up in a hotel in the city. Then, in October 1943, Lieutenant Harris was sent overseas. The young newlyweds had been together for just six weeks as man and wife.
Harris joined his new unit, the 354th Fighter Group, which was stationed at an airfield in the southeast of England. There, he was to pilot the legendary U.S. fighter plane, the P-51 Mustang. His job was to provide protection to bombers as they flew missions over Nazi-occupied Europe.