Florida Veteran to receive Medal of Honor, military highest honor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla,. – Melvin Morris received a phone call in May 2014 from a general and thought he was in trouble that call was followed by one from the President of the United States.

"I thought it was a joke," said Morris.

Melvin Morris, 72, is a Vietnam War veteran. He served two tours in the combat zone.

"I don't know how I survived," he said.

He was the first Floridian to wear the famous "Green Beret" in 1961, and still has it and respects it.

"I will not wash it," said Morris. "I refuse to wash the blood, sweat and tears from this"

The recent call from the commander in Chief almost knocked him to his knees. The President called to tell Morris he will be given the medal of honor for his heroic actions nearly 40 years ago.

"I was surprised," said Morris.

Mary Morris, his wife of 52 years, said her husband deserves it. She has seen how PTSD has affected his life.

"I am packed and I am ready to go," she said.

On one of his missions he retrieved the body of a fellow soldier, under fire, when he did Morris said he performed priestly duties.

"I gave him last rites," said Morris. "I kept a small bible in my pocket."

Then he discovered that his fellow worker had dropped a map with critical information so he went back and recovered it, again under fire. He sustained wounds to his chest, finger and arms but said he patched himself up and made it to a safe location where he was medevac to a hospital.

Morris retired from the United States Army. He received he the Distinguished Service Cross, but not the Medal of Honor.

During Vietnam, the racial problems of America were taken to the battlefield. Black and white American soldiers had their own battles over race.

Morris said he saw it but never personally experienced it. He believes it is because he was associated with an elite group, the Special Forces.

He is proud of the many medals he received for service. At 72, he is very excited about the Medal of Honor.

"This is not just for me," he said. "It is for everyone who sacrifice their lives on the field."

On March 18, President Obama will award 24 medals to Hispanic, Jewish, and African American veterans overlooked. Three of those recipients are still alive; Melvin Morris is one of them.

He said the news has brought a lot of attention and it has reunited him with fellow soldiers and family members he has not seen in years.


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