Khariton Shapiro was born in 1923 in the town of Khabne (subsequently renamed Kahanovichi Pershi, and then Poliske; this town no longer exists) as Khanina Shapiro, one of four sons. His father Peysah was the owner of a hardware store. The family was religious, but the youngest son, Khanina, could not obtain a religious education, because of the ongoing anti-religious campaign waged by the Soviet authorities. In 1931, his father Peysah died; his mother began to work as a seamstress, and the elder brothers had to work to provide for the family. In 1937, Khanina and his mother moved to Kiev, where his two elder brothers had settled before. In 1941, he finished school.
In June 1941, the Soviet-German War broke out. Khanina (Khariton) was drafted into the Red Army and sent to the Kiev Tank Technical School, which was evacuated to the Urals shortly thereafter. In May 1942, Khariton Shapiro finished this school, and was sent to the Nizhnii Tagil tank factory to receive new tanks. With these vehicles, he traveled to the Kalinin Front as a tank technician. His baptism by fire took place in June that year. Shapiro fought in the Rzhev operation, and was seriously wounded – which probably saved his life, given the enormous loss of life on both sides of the "Rzhev meat grinder". He spent the next 3-4 months recuperating in a hospital. After his discharge, he was sent back to the same front as a lieutenant technician of the 47th Motor-Mechanic Brigade. With a different unit, the 180th Brigade, he fought at the Kursk Salient (summer 1943), and was then transferred to the Karelian Front, and then to Belorussia. With the 2nd Belorussian Front, Shapiro took part in the takeover of Danzig, and then in the crossing of the Oder River and the occupation of Stettin (April 1945). He ended the war in Rostock, on the Baltic coast.
In the course of the war, Shapiro was awarded the Order of the Red Star, the medal "For Courage," and other medals. His highest rank was that of guards lieutenant technician.
In 1946, Shapiro was discharged from the army, and returned to Kiev. He worked at the Kiev Administration of Automobile Roads, first as a mechanic, and then as an engineer. In 1988, Khariton Shapiro and his extended family immigrated to the USA and settled in Chicago.