Wallace soldier returns home

Published 3:48 pm Wednesday, May 14, 2003

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP – Managing Editor
A local family's prayers have been answered.
After months of watching the war against Iraq develop and then weeks of praying for the safe return of their son, Allen and Kathy Morris can now rest easy knowing that their son, Michael, is safe.
Michael Morris, is the first county soldier to return home after serving in the Iraq war. Before making landfall in San Diego earlier in the week, Michael had been at sea for 10 months - the final four without any port stops.
On Thursday, at about 4 p.m., Allen and Kathy saw their son for the first time since the war began when they picked him up at the airport.
Allen heard about his son's return on television when the admiral of the Lincoln reported that they were coming home.
Michael, who was promoted to an E-4 on Thursday, served as an aviation ordinanceman on the Lincoln. He has been in the military for over two years.
He is stationed in California where he is part of the S-3 Viking Squadron, or the VS-35 Blue Wolves. In fact, one of his jets was used to fly President George Bush onto the Lincoln prior to his televised speech from the carrier's deck. He said being in such close contact with the president, especially under the circumstances, was an honor he will never forget.
Michael was assigned to the Lincoln in July 2002. The original assignment called for them to stay at sea for about six months. In mid-January, the Lincoln was making its way back toward the U.S. when it turned around and made port in Australia.
After the brief stop, Michael and the U.S.S. Lincoln made their way to the Persian Gulf where they remained until the war was over. Michael said he and his fellow soldiers knew war was coming and that it became very obvious when it finally got underway.
From aboard the Lincoln, Michael was able to keep up with what was happening within Iraq in the same way that his parents and most other Americans did - by watching television.
He also watched as tomahawk missiles were fired from other naval vessels in the Persian Gulf.
Michael said morale remained high among the soldiers throughout the conflict.
As flight operations began to decrease, Michael said it was apparent that the war was coming to an end. While they continued to patrol the Gulf, they learned in early April that they would be coming home. For those on board who had not set foot on land for four months, the news was welcomed.
The morning after Bush's speech, which took place about 80 miles from San Diego, Michael woke up to see land right in front of him. He knew this time the ship would dock and he would get to go home.
He said that the president's speech confirmed for him the end of the war and the success of the American military.
Coincidentally, his mother had similar feelings as she watched the speech on television.
For Michael's parents and his 12-year-old sister Michelle, the days of trying to catch a glimpse of their son on CNN were over.
Michael's uncle, David Morris, said the entire family kept watch to try and confirm Michael's situation.
Michael is not only the cousin of his uncle's three children - Sierra, 7; Cameron, 6; and Colby, 2 - but, he is also their godfather.
On Friday morning, Michael, along with his parents and uncle, arrived at his grandparent's house for breakfast. Pansy and Edgar Morris also live in Wallace and morning breakfast at their house is a tradition in the family. Michael said homecooked meals, especially his "granny's dumplings," was among the things he missed the most.
The entire family credits the power of prayer for the safe return of Michael and the success of the American military. They said the entire community rallied with them during the war and that it offered them comfort and strength.
Even as part of the military and the knowledge that his vessel alone accounted for 1.4 million pounds of the bombs that landed on Iraq, Michael said victory would not have come without prayer.
Michael will return to California after a 20-day leave expires.
A reception is planned in his honor today at 1 p.m. at the Wallace Volunteer Fire Department. The entire Morris family serve as volunteers with the department.

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