Far from the Vietnam jungles where Melvin Morris served two tours, the Army staff sergeant stood on a stage at the White House Tuesday accompanied by President Barack Obama who awarded him the Medal of Honor.
President Obama noted in his opening remarks to the room packed with family members and military that the 72-year-old Florida resident Morris was one of the first Green Berets.
In a ceremony that lasted more than an hour, Morris was recognized for his valor on Sept. 17, 1969, 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 down 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.
In 1970, Morris received the nation’s second-highest honor for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross. But like the 23 others recognized in the March 18, 2014 Medal of Honor ceremony, it was determined that Morris deserved the highest honor, the Medal of Honor, but had been denied that originally due to discrimination.
You can read more about Morris in an Army News Service article and watch the White House ceremony.
Here is the list of all 24 Medal of Honor recipients:
Living veterans honored at the ceremony:
- Specialist Four Santiago J. Erevia
- Staff Sergeant Melvin Morris
- Sergeant First Class Jose Rodela
Veterans honored posthumously at today’s ceremony:
- World War II veterans
- Private Pedro Cano
- Private Joe Gandara
- Private First Class Salvador J. Lara
- Sergeant William F. Leonard
- Staff Sergeant Manuel V. Mendoza
- Sergeant Alfred B. Nietzel
- First Lieutenant Donald K. Schwab
- Korean War veterans
- Corporal Joe R. Baldonado
- Corporal Victor H. Espinoza
- Sergeant Eduardo C. Gomez
- Private First Class Leonard M. Kravitz
- Master Sergeant Juan E. Negron
- Master Sergeant Mike C. Pena
- Private Demensio Rivera
- Private Miguel A. Vera
- Sergeant Jack Weinstein
- Vietnam War veterans
- Sergeant Candelario Garcia
- Specialist Four Leonard L. Alvarado
- Staff Sergeant Felix M. Conde-Falcon
- Specialist Four Ardie R. Copas
- Specialist Four Jesus S. Duran
You can read more about the 24 Medal of Honor recipients and the White House ceremony here.