DES MOINES, Iowa -- Sergeant First Class Melvin Morris paid a visit to Iowa to speak at Des Moines Area Community College on Wednesday. Morris is one of the few living Medal of Honor recipients
Morris said as an eighth grade drop out he originally sought out a job in the military to create a better life for himself but it turned into so much more. It lead him back to school so he could become part of the United States Army Special Forces.
“I didn’t ever think I was going to make it but the day they told me that I was a qualified Green Beret it was a great day,” Morris said.
He completed two tours in Vietnam and almost didn’t make it off the battlefield during a mission as he tried to recover the body of a fallen sergeant.
“We get to the map case, he gets the map case and the NVA shoots me in the chest. I go down my interpreter goes out I take out the NVA but the rest of them are still trying to shoot me,” Morris said.
Decades later, Morris received a mysterious phone call from Washington, D.C.
“And the guy on the phone says this is President Obama. I want to apologize to you for not receiving the Medal of Honor 44 years ago,” Morris said.
Morris said he now uses the Medal of Honor platform to fight the racism and hate he experienced that still exists in our society today.
“We couldn’t go to the same swimming pool and it makes you feel less than a person. And so it’s important that we understand we are the same,” Morris said.
Morris said he is passionate about fighting discrimination in the military especially surrounding the topic of US citizenship.
“But to have served and still have a green card doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever. You proved your patriotism once you put that boot on because it’s not telling if you are ever going to combat or not. You could have put those boots on and be in combat the next day,” Morris said.
Morris said he hasn’t slowed down since receiving his medal of honor because he wants to open the hearts and minds of others one speech at a time.
“My hope is that I can inspire one person to do better if they’re having a hard time because my story may uplift them a little bit. The other part of it is to open the eyes of people that have their eyes closed. And I always say if I can save one young kid I’ve done my job,” Morris said.