Recently, Navy Veteran Ralph J. Morris celebrated his 100th birthday with staff of the Gulf Coast VA.
The World War II Veteran, who enlisted in 1942, was recognized during the celebration at the Pensacola Joint Ambulatory Care Center by Director Bryan C. Matthews.
“Our Veterans are the reason we exist. To celebrate the 100th birthday of an individual who was involved in one of the world’s greatest conflicts is an honor,” Matthews said. “Mr. Morris’ dedication to his duty serves as an example of what we – as an organization serving those who have served – embody. I couldn’t be more proud to celebrate this Veteran’s milestone birthday.”
Matthews addressed Morris and his family and friends while Home Based Primary Care Manager Ashley Nadeau presented Morris with Navy medals and ribbons he was awarded nearly eight decades ago.
Machinist mate on two destroyers
Morris also received photographs of the Navy destroyers on which he served and a book on World War II ships from Home and Community Programs Medical Director Dr. James Heriot.
Morris was born in Jefferson, Iowa. He served aboard the USS Sigsbee, a Fletcher-class destroyer. Later, he served aboard the USS Alfred A. Cunningham, an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer. During his enlistment, he was a machinist’s mate. He worked in both vessels’ power plants.
After his military service, Morris opened a home furnishings store in Iowa, married, and then raised two daughters. In 1959, the family relocated to Florida, and he worked as a salesman. Recently, the WWII Veteran moved to Crestview, Florida, to live with his daughter.
Devotion to duty speaks volumes
“On behalf of the Gulf Coast VA, I’m honored to wish you a happy birthday,” Matthews said. “Your dedication and devotion to duty during one of our nation’s greatest challenges speaks volumes of who you are.”
More than 16 million U.S. citizens served in World War II, but less than 250,000 are still alive today.
The Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System is comprised of the Biloxi VA Medical Center and the Mobile, Pensacola, Eglin and Panama City community-based outpatient clinics. It is headquartered in Biloxi, Mississippi. The system provides a variety of medical outpatient services to more than 82,000 Veterans and other eligible beneficiaries along the Mississippi, Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast.