Melvin Morris (born January 7, 1942) is a United States Army veteran of the Vietnam War, a Special Forces soldier, and a recipient of the Medal of Honor. Morris was born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, on January 7, 1942. In 1959 Morris joined the Oklahoma Army National Guard and soon after joined the active duty United States Army.
“Being in the military was better than being in trouble,” he said. Morris excelled in the military, becoming one of the first Green Berets in 1961 and twice volunteered for tours in Vietnam.
Morris appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of the American Battlefield Trust’s magazine Hallowed Ground, writing about his visit to Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina, where Sergeant William Harvey Carney earned his Medal of Honor while serving with the 54th Massachusetts in 1863.
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 Sergeant Morris led an advance across enemy lines to recover the body of a fallen sergeant. Morris single-handedly destroyed with a bag of grenades an enemy force in a series of bunkers which was pinning down his battalion. Morris was shot three times during that engagement.
Morris received the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama in a March 18, 2014 ceremony in the White House. 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.
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.