Monday, June 6, 2011
Joe Morris Sailing into D-Day, at age 15
By JEFF WILKINSON
When Joe Morris’ father died of a heart attack in 1940, Morris had to find a way to support his two sisters and the stepmother who had raised him.
So he joined the Navy on Oct. 22, 1941, just weeks before the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.
He was 12 years old.
“I had no birth certificate, so my sisters changed my age in the family Bible,” said Morris, now 83 and living in Columbia.
Although his grade-school principal refused to sign a Navy form “verifying” that Morris was 17, Morris convinced a retired Navy chief gunner’s mate in his hometown of Elizabethton, Tenn., to do it, and the boy went to sea.
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Morris, then an old salt at the age of 15, was aboard the heavy cruiser USS Quincy (CA-71), in the middle of the largest amphibious operation in the history of warfare, Operation Neptune, the naval phase of the invasion of France.
“It looked like every ship in the Navy was there,” Morris said.
Today is the 67th anniversary of that epic invasion. And those who were there are rapidly passing away. About 1,500 World War II veterans a day are dying nationally and with them, their stories.
Perhaps more than the Army or the Army Air Corps, it was the Navy that turned what could have been disaster on Omaha Beach — one of five beaches stormed by British, American and Canadian troops on that fateful day — into victory.
American, British and Allied navies landed more than 160,000 troops in France on June 6, along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast divided into the five beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. There were nearly 196,000 Allied sailors and 5,000 ships involved in the assault. They included vessels of every description from the 30-foot-long Higgins boats that landed troops on the beach, to battleships that pounded German inland defenses.
Eight warships were sunk, as well as numerous landing craft. More than 1,000 sailors and Coast Guardsmen died — roughly one-fifth of all U.S. casualties on the first day of the invasion.
But aside from softening up German defenses and landing troops, destroyers and cruisers like the Quincy played a decisive and heroic role in saving troops on Omaha and other beaches.
Despite thousands of bombs dropped on the German coast in an attempt to knock out gun emplacements, many were still in action as the troops stormed ashore on Omaha Beach. So the cruisers and destroyers – smaller and more maneuverable than battleships — cruised up and down the coast in the face of German artillery fire to finish the job the Air Corps started.
Morris, who manned an anti-aircraft battery on the Quincy, remembers the adeptness of the ship’s commander, Capt. Elliot M. Senn — “a big red-headed Irishman,” Morris recalled — to guide the 673-foot-long, 13,500-ton ship close to beach for a better shot.
“He could handle that ship like an old fisherman could handle a rowboat,” Morris said. “He actually ran it aground, into the mud on the beach, to get closer to a target that he wanted to shoot at. We fired for about three hours running up and down the coast. We went to practically every beach at one time or another during the invasion. We shot until we ran out of ammunition.”
Morris also remembers seeing the Higgins boats circling below and heading to the beaches packed with soldiers.
“The roughest thing was to see a (Higgins boat) pull up (to the beach) and a shell go right through it,” he said. “Then you would see the bodies floating in the water. They just made a boat ride from the ship to the graveyard.”
Morris didn’t know it at the time, but his brother Howard, who was 10 years older than Morris and had left home when Morris was a small boy due to conflicts with their father, was one of those soldiers in the Higgins boats.
“But he was lucky,” Morris said. “He was in the second wave” and survived.
After D-Day, Morris and the Quincy would go on to assist with in the invasion of southern France on Aug. 15, 1944, transport President Franklin D. Roosevelt from New York to Malta on the way to the president’s Yalta Conference, and serve through the end of the war in the Pacific Theater, even shelling the Japanese mainland.
But on this D-Day, those floating bodies that still haunt Morris.
“I’ll never forget it,” he said. “I wish I could.”
(My dad also served in WWII and talked about going back on a tour to visit the d day beaches. He like Morris defended our freedom and fought the enemy.
Today the enemy is within our government. It has become corrupt. I'm sure they didn't fight to preserve our freedom so an illegal alien could become president.
America is not the problem, corrupt politicians who condone fraud and corrpution by ignoring the US Constitution are the enemy within.
Today D Day is remembered because of those who fought for freedom at any cost.
Its still the same today. To preserve our freedom Americans must "fight" the enemy within.
This means not giving up just because the state run media tells you lies.
I was told by someone that I was ignorant because I knew obama was an illegal president.
My reply to this person was no, I am not ignorant but informed. You are ignorant of the facts or ignore the facts.
This is the case of many people. Become informed and don't be ignorant of the fact obama is an illegal president who can't validate his US citizenship by displaying a valid copy of an original Hawaiian long form birth certificate.) Story Reports
Read this article below from world net daily that explains how the document released by obama is a forgery. Become informed or remain ignorant of the fact obama is an illegal president.
Criminal complaint details birth-certificate 'forgery' Document-imaging expert outlines his case in 22-page filing with FBI