The Morris men gather in September 1947, the day after their mother’s funeral. Shown are (from left) Steve, Bruce, George, John H. Ecil, Raymond, Ted and father Harvey.
The Morris Brothers
from the South Pacific to the present
Searcy Daily Citizen, December 3, 2000
Recently, there was a meeting in north White County of the three surviving Morris brothers. Their story is a very interesting one. At this meeting, they discussed their time in the "Theaters" (World War II). There were seven brothers in this family, all of which served in WWII, and all survived the conflict to return to the U.S.
In addition to the seven brothers, the family had three sisters. Two of these sisters were married to American servicemen also involved in combat situations in WWII.
The Morris family is from a small farm in the community of Denmark (Arkansas). In 1931, the family moved to the Searcy area where their father, Harvey Morris, served White County as bridge foreman. He also served as the White County Deputy Assessor and later as the White County Assessor.
The family, having strong ties to the county, developed strong patriotic values. When their country needed them, they all were proud to serve. In several instances this meant the ultimate sacrifice. But, amazingly enough, all seven brothers returned, an overwhelming feat for a family of this size. But even more extraordinary, their two brothers-in-law also returned from the European Theater.
Three of the seven brothers were already serving their country before that horrible day, December 7, 1941, when the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor was fired upon and ultimately brought the United States into the war. Ecil Morris, serving in the Navy, was stationed in Manila, Philippines. George Morris was also serving in the Navy on a "cruiser."
His ship pulled out of Pearl Harbor at daybreak and he watched in wonder from its deck where the Japanese planes were headed. Ted Morris, the oldest of the seven, was serving in the Coast Guard at the Coast Guard Air Station in San Diego.
The family served in various capacities all over the world. From the Army to the Coast Guard, this family was in the thick of the war.
Here is a look at those who served:
Ted K. Morris, Aviation Chief Machinist’s Mate, enlisted into the Coast Guard in 1926. Serving the United States in various ways, he was already a veteran when WWII began. During the war, he served four years overseas in two duty stations. These duty stations were Alaska and Pearl Harbor.
His awards and decorations are as follows: Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon, American Theater Ribbon, American Defense Service Ribbon, and the Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal.
Lt. Col. Raymond C. Morris was commissioned into the Army Reserve Officers Corps on February 5, 1942. Col. Morris was sent to the Southwest Pacific in March 1942 and there remained for 40 months. He participated in four campaigns, The East Indies, New Guinea, Southern Philippines, and Luzon. His awards are the Bronze Star Medal and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one battle star.
Ecil O. Morris, Chief Warrant Officer, enlisted in the Navy on December 12, 1933. In March of 1944, he was sent to the Southwest Pacific area and saw action in the Philippines, the battle of Java Sea, Midway Island and Bonins Islands. His awards are as follows: The Army Distinguished Service Badge, the Bronze Star Medal, Good Conduct Medal and the Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon. He was honorably discharged on April 7, 1945, in New London, Connecticut.
John H. Morris Jr., Radar Operator 2/c, enlisted into the Navy on May 11, 1944. After six months of stateside duty, he was assigned to transport duty in the South Pacific. Overseas for 14 months, he took part in the liberation of the Philippines and the capture of Okinawa. He was honorably discharged January 14, 1946, at San Francisco, California.
George C. Morris, Chief Radioman, enlisted in the Navy March 11, 1938. He attended submarine school at New London, Connecticut. Serving with the Submarine Force, Chief Morris was at Pearl Harbor at the time of the Japanese attack and later took part in the Bougainville, Guadalcanal and the Midway campaigns. He also took part in the naval battles of the Coral Sea, Guadalcanal and Tassafaronga. In two overseas tours of duty, he took part in four submarine war patrols and saw three years of Foreign Service. The commander-in-chief of the Pacific fleet commended him. He received a commendtion from Admiral C.W. Nimitz for meritorious conduct in performance of his duties during a war patrol. He also received a personal commendation from Admiral Nimitz for duty above and beyond the call of service.
James B. Morris, Lt. Commander, was commissioned into the Navy September 9, 1942. After his training, he became a Naval Air Corps fighter pilot and was sent to the Southwest Pacific in December 1944. Lieutenant Morris took part in the Okinawa campaign and the air attack against Japan. He was awarded the Air Medal with one Battle Star.
Stephen M. Morris was anxious to join his brothers in the South Pacific, so he falsified his birth record to join the Navy. After boot camp in San Diego, he spent 18 months on a Navy "cruiser," most of which was in the South Pacific during the years of 1945 and 1946. He served in the Guam/Saigon area. He was awarded the World War II Victory Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
There were three sisters of this family: Alton Morris Siler, Arondale Morris Street and Betty Morris Rainwater. Two of them were married to American servicemen, Ira Siler and Eugene Street. These men also served in the South Pacific. Their stories are as follows:
Ira Siler, Corporal, U.S. Army, entered on December 30,1943. Assigned to field artillery, he did his training at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. In December of 1944, he was sent to the European Theater and remained overseas for 14 months. Corporal Siler took part in the Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns. He was awarded the European Theater Ribbon with three Battle Stars and the Army Good Conduct Medal.
Eugene Street, U.S. Army, served with distinction in the 14th Armored Division. In October 1944, he was deployed to the European Theater, and there served in a backup force for the Battle of the Bulge (Ardennes Offensive). Total time in an overseas tour of duty, Mr. Street spent 14 months. His awards include the European Theater Ribbon with three Battle Stars, the European Occupation Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
The story of the Morris family is indeed extraordinary. They all fought proudly for their country when service was desperately needed. It is the kind of story movie scripts are written about, and who knows, the Morris family’s story may be on the big screen someday.