Morris receiving the Medal of Honor from President Obama in 2014.
January 7, 1942 |
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1959–1985|
|Rank||Sergeant First Class|
|Unit||5th Special Forces Group
1st Special Forces
|Awards|| Medal of Honor
Bronze Star Medal (2)
Purple Heart (2)
Meritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal (2) with V Device
Special Forces Tab
Combat Infantry Badge
Expert Marksmanship Badge
Master Parachutist Badge
Republic of Vietnam Master Parachute Badge
Morris was born and grew up in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. In 1959 Morris joined the Oklahoma Army National Guard and soon after joined the active duty Army. "Being in the military was better than being in trouble," he said. He excelled in the military, becoming one of the first Green Berets in 1961 and twice volunteered for tours in Vietnam.
Medal of Honor action
Morris received the Medal of Honor for his valorous actions on September 17, 1969, while commanding the Third Company, Third Battalion of the IV Mobile Strike Force near Chi Lang, Vietnam. Then-Staff Sgt. Morris led an advance across enemy lines to recover the body of a fallen sergeant. Morris single-handedly destroyed an enemy force with a bag of grenades in a series of bunkers that was pinning his battalion down. Morris was shot three times during that engagement.
(Distinguished Service Cross)
The award came through the Defense Authorization Act which called for a review of Jewish American and Hispanic American veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to ensure that no prejudice was shown to those deserving the Medal of Honor.
Medal of Honor Citation
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor to:
United States Army
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Staff Sergeant Melvin Morris distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Commander of a Strike Force drawn from Company D, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, during combat operations against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Chi Lang, Republic of Vietnam on September 17, 1969.
On that afternoon, Staff Sergeant Morris’ affiliated companies encountered an extensive enemy mine field and were subsequently engaged by a hostile force. Staff Sergeant Morris learned by radio that a fellow team commander had been killed near an enemy bunker and he immediately reorganized his men into an effective assault posture before advancing forward and splitting off with two men to recover the team commander’s body. Observing the maneuver, the hostile force concentrated its fire on Staff Sergeant Morris’ three-man element and successfully wounded both men accompanying him. After assisting the two wounded men back to his forces’ lines, Staff Sergeant Morris charged forward into withering enemy fire with only his men’s suppressive fire as cover. While enemy machine gun emplacements continuously directed strafing fusillades against him, Staff Sergeant Morris destroyed the positions with hand grenades and continued his assault, ultimately eliminating four bunkers. Upon reaching the bunker nearest the fallen team commander, Staff Sergeant Morris repulsed the enemy, retrieved his comrade and began the arduous trek back to friendly lines. He was wounded three times as he struggled forward, but ultimately succeeded in returning his fallen comrade to a friendly position.
Staff Sergeant Morris’ extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Morris received the Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star Medal with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal with "V" Device and one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal with one Silver Loop, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with one Silver Star, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral "3", Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral "4", Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Expert Marksmanship Badge with Rifle Bar, Special Forces Tab, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star.
- "Sergeant First Class Melvin Morris". Valor 24: Medal of Honor. United States Army. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
- Moody, R. Norman (18 March 2014). "Florida Army veteran will receive Medal of Honor". Florida Today. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
- "The special forces hero receiving Medal of Honor more than 40 years after he was 'passed over because he was black'". Daily Mail UK. Associated Press. 18 March 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
- Daniel Rothberg (2014-02-21). "Obama will award Medal of Honor to 24 overlooked Army veterans". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-02-21.