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Flagler County hosts Memorial Day service featuring Vietnam War veteran

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Sergeant First Class Melvin Morris was one of the first Soldiers to don the 'green beret' at the command of President John F. Kennedy while at Fort Bragg in 1961.
by: Julie Murphy Flagler County Public Information Officer

Join Flagler County at its Memorial Day Ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday, May 31, featuring Special Guest Speaker Sergeant First Class Melvin Morris, US Army (retired), Vietnam War Special Forces Veteran and Medal of Honor recipient.

“It is an honor and a privilege to have a real life American hero like Sergeant Morris help us pay tribute to those who lost their lives in service to our country,” said Veterans Service Officer David Lydon.

Morris was one of the first Soldiers to don the “green beret” at the command of President John F. Kennedy while at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on October 12, 1961. In the United States armed forces, the green beret may be worn only by soldiers awarded the Special Forces Tab, signifying they have been qualified as Special Forces soldiers.

He twice volunteered for deployments to Vietnam.

Morris received the Medal of Honor in recognition for his valorous actions while commanding the Third Company, Third Battalion of the IV Mobile Strike Force near Chi Lang. A staff sergeant at the time, Morris led an advance across enemy lines to retrieve a fallen comrade and single-handedly destroyed an enemy force that had pinned his battalion from a series of bunkers. He was shot three times as he retrieved American casualties.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Morris is the recipient of about 20 other medals and badges: Bronze Star Medal with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster; Purple Heart with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster; Meritorious Service Medal; Air Medal; Army Commendation Medal with "V" Device and one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster; Army Good Conduct Medal Silver with one Loop; National Defense Service Medal; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Vietnam Service Medal with one Silver Star; Non-commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral 3; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral 4; Combat Infantryman Badge; Master Parachutist Badge; Expert Marksmanship Badge with Rifle Bar; Special Forces Tab; Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star; Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 Device; Vietnam Parachutist Badge; Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm Device; and, Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal Citation, First Class.

The ceremony will be at 10 a.m. in front of the Government Services Building, 1769 E. Moody Blvd., Bunnell. Local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will lead attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Amelia Fulmer, Flagler Schools, will lead attendees in singing God Bless America in remembrance of Henry “Red” Gensch, who had been a fixture at both Memorial Day and Veterans Day events for years in Flagler County. Vince Cautero will once again lead everyone in the singing of God Bless the USA.

The Memorial Day event is sponsored by the Flagler County Commission and the Flagler County Veterans Advisory Council. Veterans and support groups to participate include: American Legion Post 115, DAV Chapter 86, Marine Corps League 876, Military Officers Association of America, Flagler County Veterans Service Office, VFW Post 8696, Sons of the American Revolution and the Knights of Columbus 2264 Color Corps.

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