George Stephen Morrison
George Stephen Morrison
|Born||January 7, 1919|
Rome, Georgia, U.S.
|Died||November 17, 2008 (aged 89)|
Coronado, California, U.S.
|Service/||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1938–1975|
|Commands held||USS Bon Homme Richard|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
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, who died in July 1971.
Early life and education
Born in Rome, Georgia, Morrison was the son of Caroline (née Hoover; 1891–1984) and Paul Raymund Morrison (1886–1971), and raised in Leesburg, Florida. 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 minelayer USS Pruitt. On December 7, 1941, Morrison witnessed the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor.
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 with "V" for Valor device.
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. Morrison 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.
In 1967, in one article in the British paper, The Telegraph, it is unofficially reported by some that Morrison vehemently opposed the US response to, and findings of, the USS Liberty incident which exonerated Israel of malice. Morrison did not rise in rank again after his outspoken criticism of Israeli intentions.
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. In 1972, he was appointed Commander Naval Forces Marianas. 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.
Rear Admiral 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.
Awards and decorations
Rear Admiral Morrison was a recipient of the following military decorations and service medals, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Gold Star, the Bronze Star Medal with "V" for Valor device (Korean War), Air Medal with two Gold Stars and the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon (World War II), the American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three Bronze Stars, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Ribbon with Bronze Star, Korean Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Taiwan Straits), Korean Presidential Unit Citation Medal and the United Nations Service Medal.
|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|
Morrison met and married Clara Virginia Clarke (1919–2005) in Hawaii in 1942. Their son James Douglas (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. A daughter, Anne Robin, was born in 1947 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and became a school teacher in Thousand Oaks, California, and a son, Andrew Lee Morrison, was born in 1948 in Los Altos, California, and lives in Ashburn, VA.
Retirement and final years
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.
- "Jim Morrison's Father and The Gulf of Tonkin Incident. The Doors Examiner 2017". Archived from the original on 2018-05-01. Retrieved 2017-10-15.
- McGowen, Dave (8 May 2008). "Inside The LC: The Strange but Mostly True Story of Laurel Canyon and the Birth of the Hippie Generation" (Best of the Web). SOTT.net. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
- 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.
- Grimes, William (December 8, 2008). "George S. Morrison, Admiral and Singer's Father, Dies at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved September 6, 2010.
- Livepress encyclopedia[dead link] retrieved April 8, 2008
- "Tonkin Gulf Crisis, August 1964". Naval Historical Center. Department Of The Navy. Archived from the original on 28 December 2002.
- silurian (9 June 2009). "The USS Liberty Incident". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 10 July 2014.
- "Rear Admiral George S. Morrison, ComNavMarianas. October 1, 1972 (Photographs)". libweb.hawaii.edu. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
- "Rear-Admiral George Morrison: father of Jim Morrison". The New York Times. December 11, 2008. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
- "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.
- "Viet art to go back to owner". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. Associated Press. May 29, 1975. p. 27.
- "New camp to get Guam Vietnamese". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. Associated Press. 27 May 1975. p. 15.
- Prina, L. Edgar (June 9, 1975). "Morrison undaunted by refugee operation". Daily News. Kingsport, Tennessee. Copley News Service. p. 4.
- Carroll, Ward (14 March 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
- "All in the Family: A brother-in-law remembers Jim". American Legends.
- "Jim Morrison". The Biography Channel. Archived from the original on 20 September 2010. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
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