George Stephen Morrison

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George Stephen Morrison
Admiral George Stephen Morrison.jpg
Born(1919-01-07)January 7, 1919
Rome, Georgia
DiedNovember 17, 2008(2008-11-17) (aged 89)
Coronado, California
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Navy
Years of service1938–1975
RankRear Admiral
Commands heldNaval Forces Marianas
USS Bon Homme Richard
Battles/warsWorld War II

Korean War
Vietnam War

AwardsNavy Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star Medal
Clara Virginia Clarke
(m. 1942; died 2005)
Children3, including Jim

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 United States naval forces 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, who died on July 3, 1971.[1][2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Born January 7, 1919, in Rome, Georgia, Morrison was the son of Caroline (née Hoover; 1891–1984) and Paul Raymund Morrison (1886–1971), and raised in Leesburg, Florida.[2] The Morrison family was descended from Scottish settlers who emigrated to America in the late 18th century.[4] He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1938, graduated in 1941, and was commissioned an ensign. Sent to Hawaii, he joined the crew of the destroyer USS Pruitt.[5] 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

Morrison began flight training in 1943 at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, and graduated in spring 1944. He flew missions in the Pacific Theater for the duration of World War II.[5] 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 Medal with "V" for Valor device.[3]

In 1963, Morrison took command of the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard, flagship of a 3rd Fleet Carrier Division in the Pacific, and based at Naval Air Station Alameda, California. He was in command of the Carrier Division during the controversial Gulf of Tonkin Incident in August 1964, which resulted effectively in the true beginning of the Vietnam War by President Lyndon Johnson.[6]

In 1967, Morrison was promoted to rear admiral.[3] In WestPac in 1968, he commanded a Task Group that was part of Task Force 77 commanded by Vice Admiral Ralph Cousins; the USS Hancock served as his flagship. Besides operations against communist forces in North Vietnam, the task force was diverted to Korea in December 1968 to support South Korean forces battling North Korean infiltrators during the Korean DMZ Conflict. He 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.[citation needed] In 1972, he was appointed Commander Naval Forces Marianas.[7] As such, he was in charge of relief efforts for Vietnamese refugees sent to Guam after the fall of Saigon in the spring of 1975.[8][9][10][11][12]

Morrison was the keynote speaker at the decommissioning ceremony for the carrier Bon Homme Richard, his first ship as an admiral, on July 2, 1971, in Washington D.C. His estranged son, rock musician Jim Morrison, died in Paris at age 27 the following day.[13]

Morrison retired from the Navy in August 1975 as a rear admiral (upper half).[8]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Morrison was a recipient of the following military decorations and service medals:

Naval Aviator Badge.jpg
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Badge Naval Aviator insignia
1st Row Navy Distinguished Service Medal Legion of Merit with star Bronze Star Medal with "V" device
2nd Row Air Medal with two stars Presidential Unit Citation American Defense Service Medal
3rd Row American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three stars European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
4th Row World War II Victory Medal National Defense Service Medal with one star Korean Service Medal
5th Row Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Korea Presidential Unit Citation United Nations Service Medal

Personal life[edit]

Morrison met and married Clara Virginia Clarke (1919–2005) in Hawaii in 1942. Their son Jim Morrison (later, lead singer of rock band The Doors) was born in late 1943 in Melbourne, Florida, where they lived at the time while stationed at Naval Air Station Melbourne.[5] A daughter, Anne Robin Morrison, was born in 1947 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and became a school teacher in Thousand Oaks, California,[14] and a son, Andrew Lee Morrison, was born in 1948 in Los Altos, California, and lives in Ashburn, VA.[13][15]

Retirement and final years[edit]

In retirement, the Morrisons lived in Coronado and Chula Vista, California. Clara Clarke Morrison died, age 86, 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.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Jim Morrison's Father and The Gulf of Tonkin Incident. The Doors Examiner 2017". Archived from the original on May 1, 2018. Retrieved October 15, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Steve Liewer (November 28, 2008). "George 'Steve' Morrison; rear admiral flew combat missions in lengthy career". San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on August 25, 2010. Retrieved September 6, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d Grimes, William (December 8, 2008). "George S. Morrison, Admiral and Singer's Father, Dies at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved September 6, 2010.
  4. ^ Davis, Stephen (2004). Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend. Penguin Publishing. p. 6. ISBN 1-59240-064-7.
  5. ^ a b c Livepress encyclopedia[dead link] retrieved April 8, 2008
  6. ^ "Tonkin Gulf Crisis, August 1964". Naval Historical Center. Department Of The Navy. Archived from the original on December 28, 2002.
  7. ^ "Rear Admiral George S. Morrison, ComNavMarianas. October 1, 1972 (Photographs)". Retrieved September 6, 2010.
  8. ^ a b "Rear-Admiral George Morrison: father of Jim Morrison". The New York Times. December 11, 2008. Retrieved September 6, 2010.
  9. ^ "Guam, Washington need each other". Milwaukee Journal. May 1, 1975. p. 1. Archived from the original (Press Dispatches) on December 10, 2015. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  10. ^ "Viet art to go back to owner". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. Associated Press. May 29, 1975. p. 27.
  11. ^ "New camp to get Guam Vietnamese". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. Associated Press. May 27, 1975. p. 15.
  12. ^ Prina, L. Edgar (June 9, 1975). "Morrison undaunted by refugee operation". Daily News. Kingsport, Tennessee. Copley News Service. p. 4.
  13. ^ a b Carroll, Ward (March 14, 2016). "Jim Morrison's dad had a hand in starting the Vietnam War". Business Insider. keynote speaker at the decommissioning ceremony for Bon Homme Richard in Washington D.C. the same day his son Jim, the rock icon, died
  14. ^ "All in the Family: A brother-in-law remembers Jim". American Legends.
  15. ^ "Jim Morrison". The Biography Channel. Archived from the original on September 20, 2010. Retrieved September 6, 2010.

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