Melvin Morris

Melvin Morris was born in Okmulgee, OK, Jan. 7, 1942, and entered the Oklahoma Army National Guard in 1959. He grew up in amilitary family, admiring an uncle who was a ”smoke jumper” in the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, an all-black airborne unit of the U.S. Army during World War II, and an older brother who served in Korea. He later asked to join the active Army and enlisted at Fort Bragg, NC, in 1961. He was one of the first soldiers to become a Green Beret (U. S. Army Special Forces) and volunteered twice for deployments to Vietnam. 

He was serving as one of five advisors on Sept. 17, 1969, but two were wounded and one killed, leaving Morris to cross enemy lines to retrieve the body of his dead comrade. “I knew I had to go and recover his body, because you don't leave a Soldier behind,” he said. “I took two volunteers to get the body of the sergeant and they were both wounded, so I helped them back. I took two bags of hand grenades, and threw hand grenade after hand grenade, then went back alone to recover the body and retrieve the maps and documents the commander was carrying.”

He received the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism in 1970 and, within 30 days, was back in Vietnam for his second tour of duty, having volunteered to return. 

He retired at Fort Hood, Texas, in 1985, and currently lives in Florida.

Melvin Morris is recognized for his valorous actions on Sept. 17, 1969, while commanding the Third Company, Third Battalion of the IV Mobile Strike Force near Chi Lang. Then-Staff Sgt. Morris led an advance across enemy lines to retrieve a fallen comrade and single-handedly destroyed an enemy force that had pinned his battalion from a series of bunkers. Staff Sgt. Morris was shot three times as he ran back toward friendly lines with the American casualties, but did not stop until he reached safety.