George Stephen Morrison

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George Stephen Morrison
Admiral George Stephen Morrison.jpg
Born (1919-01-07)January 7, 1919
Rome, Georgia, U.S.
Died November 17, 2008(2008-11-17) (aged 89)
Coronado, California, U.S.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1938–1975
Rank US Navy O8 infobox.svg Rear Admiral (Upper Half)
Commands held USS Bon Homme Richard

World War II

Korean War
Vietnam War

George Stephen Morrison (January 7, 1919 – November 17, 2008) was a United States Navy rear admiral (upper half) and naval aviator. Morrison was commander of the U.S. naval forces in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Gulf of Tonkin Incident of August 1964, which sparked an escalation of American involvement in the Vietnam War. He was the father of Jim Morrison, the lead singer of the rock band The Doors.[1][2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Morrison was born in Rome, Georgia, the son of Caroline (née Hoover; 1891-1984) and Paul Raymund Morrison (1886-1971), and raised in Leesburg, Florida.[2] Morrison entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1938. He graduated in 1941, was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Navy, and was sent to Hawaii where he joined the crew of the minelayer Pruitt (DM-22).[4] On December 7, 1941, Morrison witnessed the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor.[3]


Captain Morrison and his son Jim on the bridge of the Bon Homme Richard in January 1964

In 1943 he began flight training at NAS Pensacola, Florida, graduating in spring 1944. Morrison flew missions in the Pacific Theater for the duration of World War II.[4]

He served as an instructor on nuclear-weapons programs following the end of the war, while during the Korean War, he served at the joint operations center in Seoul. This resulted in the award of the Bronze Star.[3]

In 1963, Morrison took command of the Essex-class aircraft carrier Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31), flagship of a 3rd Fleet Carrier Division in the Pacific, and based at Naval Air Station Alameda, California. Morrison was in command of the Carrier Division during the controversial Gulf of Tonkin Incident in 1964, which resulted in a dramatic escalation of the Vietnam War.[5] In 1966 he was promoted to Rear Admiral; at age 46. In WestPac in 1968, he was Commander of Task Force 77 (CTF 77); the Hancock (CVA-19) served as his flagship. Besides operations against communist forces in North Vietnam, the task force was diverted to Korea in December of 1968 to support South Korean forces battling North Korean infiltrators. Morrison successfully led the Task Force in the interdiction of communist North Korean forces in spite of attempts by Soviet Navy destroyers to prevent flight operations by attempting to cross the path of the Hancock. In 1972, he was appointed Commander Naval Forces Marianas.[6] As such, he was in charge of relief efforts for Vietnamese refugees sent to Guam after the 1975 fall of Saigon.[7]

Rear admiral Morrison was the keynote speaker at the decommissioning ceremony for Bon Homme Richard, his first ship as an admiral, on July 3, 1971 in Washington D.C., the same day his son, rock musician Jim Morrison, died in Paris, France at age 27.

Morrison retired in 1975 as a rear admiral upper half.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Morrison met and married Clara Virginia Clarke (1919-2005) in Hawaii in 1942. Their son James Douglas was born in 1943 in Melbourne, Florida where they lived at the time while stationed at Naval Air Station Melbourne.[4] A daughter, Anne Robin, was born in 1947 in Albuquerque, New Mexico and became a school teacher in Thousand Oaks, California,[8] and a son, Andrew Lee Morrison, was born in 1948 in Los Altos, California and lives in Pahoa, Hawaii.[9][10]

In retirement, the Morrisons lived in Coronado and Chula Vista, California. Clara Clarke Morrison, 86, died after a long illness in Coronado on December 29, 2005. Rear Admiral Morrison died in Coronado on November 17, 2008. His private memorial service was held on November 24 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. His ashes were scattered at sea near the same spot off Point Loma where his wife's ashes had been scattered nearly three years earlier.