I will begin with a little background. John A Morris III is the first son of John A Morris Jr. and Mamie Lorene Albert (sounds like All-Bert). Mamie Lorene Albert is the daughter of William Pendleton Albert and Eula Morton Ware. Eula Morton Ware is the daughter of Thomas Edward (T.E.) Ware and Sara Elizabeth Lane. I am the oldest daughter of John A Morris III. That is our line from the Ware family.
Now…..Vicki asked me to write something about my Dad for Veterans Day. So, I will start with…..He was the writer not me! Any time I had anything to write I went to him to help me find the perfect words. One of the last things we did together was spending over an hour on the phone; he was helping me write something for work. So, I’ve decided to let him do most of the writing. I was looking through some of his things for letters that family had written to him while he was in Vietnam. I didn’t find any letters but I did come across his journal from 1969. I decided to share a few of his thoughts on his life in Vietnam in 1969.
I turned 2 in September 1968, and my Mom (Linda) was pregnant with my brother, John Allen Morris III who was born in February 1969. Dad was in Vietnam when my brother was born. My Dad was a photographer. He told me many times over the years that “I was shooting at them with a camera, and they were shooting at me with guns.” He never really talked about being there. So, hearing in his words (by reading his journal) what it was like being there, was an enlightening experience. It helped me to understand a little more what made him the way he was and why he did the things he did. Just FYI there are parts that drag on, so I will just put ………… in so you the reader will know there was more there I just didn’t add it. So, here goes……
From the journal of John A. Morris III while in Vietnam 1969
February 11, 1969
I found out about John Allen the IV today. Was really, really, wonderful. Big thing he is 8lbs 3oz 21 inches long…………….. Dr Meyers said Linda was doing great. Was good to hear. I want to be home so bad.
Wed. April 9, 1969
It’s been interesting being with the cav. I don’t like being out like that though. Guess I rate as a first class chicken in some ways but that doesn’t bother me any. I really do want to see my family again. This place makes less and less sense to me as time goes on. I hate the damned politicians that send men out to die. It’s taken a lot out of me being over here. The fear has become panic at times I hate being over here and the younger me that volunteered in the first place. The money helped then, but the terror and even expectation of losing your life over something so immensely stupid…………………
Th/ur. May 8, 1969
That “flair” in “Thur.” came from an arty pc going off nearby. (Notice Th/ur not Thur above, he was talking about the line through the middle of the word and why it was there.) I’m in Dong Tam and wish I weren’t. I just got in yesterday morning. Should be filling these pages, mostly for reference later, though most of this crap is something I want to forget. Somehow I get the feeling I’ll never feel quite secure again. I detest many things about this job. ………Somehow it seems as if the worst is bound to happen. Fear is the hardest thing to control. So many of us have been far to close. Some of the things that bother me shouldn’t, I guess. I’m awfully jumpy lately. (And he was for the rest of his life. We knew better than to touch him while he was sleeping. We stood across the room and yelled at him until he woke up so we didn’t get hit. I understand now it was out of his control.) May offensive is coming up. That doesn’t help any. I’d do anything honorable not to be on this job right now. Hope to hell things stay quiet. One knows they won’t. I’m still terrified. I haven’t asked to get off this job which is about the only thing I can point to with pride. Glorifying this stuff is for the birds. (I’m assuming that part of his job taking photos was to “glorify” what was going on over there) It’s ugly and stupid and unnecessary. When two enemy politicians can send two men to kill each other, the politicians ought to die and the two men who don’t want to fight in the first place ought to go back home to their wives. It’s May already. Nixon still has done nothing.
Sat. May 24, 1969
The rest of the guys went don’t to Saigon. I’ve got a million things to do and will be lucky if I get any of them done. They include captioning film, getting Linda a card, setting stamps and mailing the pictures, getting that recorder back and a few other things. Dispensary to see if I have lung cancer. I’ve had this damn cough for ages and have been coughing up crud for two months feels like a cold coming on. It’s been an awful week & I’ve blown numerous things. Oh well. I don’t have any desire to die over here. This place is awful. A year is to damned long time to get stuck here. ………………..It’s too bad, but we’ve lost the war over here. We can accomplish our “objectives” only as long as we’re here. When we leave the North has this place. The only thing that’s kept our heads above water is our air power which we use for anything, transportation, air strikes, trucking, spotting…………The only purpose of either side is to kill and destroy the other. It’s not effective because we’ve both got replacements. The only way we’ll get out is to ____ (sorry can’t read the word he wrote.) the south is ready to take over – which, of course, it is not, — and then leave. As far as their choosing their own government, I can’t see what choice they’ve got. That doesn’t matter. The killing here is weird. It seems to me that in the past it was a side effect in the struggle for power and land. Now it’s personal. “Body-Count” is a dirty word. Damn those who use it.
September 15, 1969
Next week will be in Hawaii and that’s going to be even better. John Allen’s really grown. Got some pictures lately ……..Man, I wish I’d kept this thing up. Oh well. It’s been a weird year, and there were times when I didn’t think I was going to make it through. But so far, so good. If I get to see John Allen next week, I’m not going to sweat it too much. Bet I get some good slides this time around. Got my Nikon about 3 days ago $204.00 and I have a lens coming maybe a 200mm Nikon.
December 31, 1969
Guess we won’t have the I.G. for awhile. I’m certainly behind. Have some fast moving to do to get out of here on time. It’s been a very good year and very bad year. Sometimes Linda and the kids seemed like a dream. I’ve missed Linda. And Theresa — she and I have so much catching up to do. It’s going to be fun bundling her up and getting in out in the snow for a walk or something. And John Allen. He’s a great little guy. I’ve missed not being able to be with all of them.
Now I send my son into the United States Air Force and worry about him being sent into war. But mostly hope if he ever does have to go to war, he will never have to go through the awful things my Dad did.
McKinney (my son) & Me My Dad & Me
In Loving memory of My Dad, Granddaddy, and Grandpa who have all fought for our freedom.
Many thanks to all who are doing so now.
By: Theresa J. Morris Middle