Friday, February 16, 2007

Daniel T. Morris killed in combat operations

Although Lance Cpl. Daniel T. Morris died in Iraq on Valentine’s Day, his mother, Carol Wendell, of Raphine, still got flowers.

Morris, 19, had planned ahead, ordering flowers from Iraq. During his service, he’d also sent a long stream of letters, including one that arrived Thursday — the day after his family learned of his death, according to Donnie Moneymaker, his mother’s fiancé.

Morris died from injuries he received when a pipe bomb exploded as he worked a security checkpoint, Moneymaker said. A Marine Corps statement says Morris was in Al Anbar province when he was killed.

"You never figure it’s going to happen, you hope it doesn’t," Moneymaker said Friday. "It took everybody by surprise … you just don’t believe it."

Morris was scheduled to return to his base in Hawaii next month and then come home, Moneymaker said, but he didn’t plan to stay. He wanted to be in Iraq.

Wanting To Help

Moneymaker said Morris, who had always dreamed of serving in the military, wrote home almost every week while he was overseas.

In his letters, he reflected on his belief in his mission, and his desire to stay in Iraq until the job was done, Moneymaker said.

"The [Iraqi] civilians are just like us," Moneymaker said, remembering one of Morris’ letters. "They want to live in peace just like we do. It’s the insurgents that are coming in and doing all the bombing."

Morris was in his first tour in Iraq and talked about wanting to re-enlist so he could stay in Iraq until the mission succeeded.

"He always said the local people liked them being there and the kids played with them," Moneymaker said. "They thought they were accomplishing something by keeping the insurgents out."

Morris served as a rifleman with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment of the 3rd Marine Division, according to the statement from the Corps.

Home Front

Many on both sides of Morris’ extended family had served or are serving in the U.S. military, Moneymaker said.

"It was just a family trait," Moneymaker said. "He wanted to go and help people."

Morris graduated in 2005 from Wilson Memorial High School in Fishersville and played trumpet in the band.

"He was a joker, but it was never with a mean streak," Moneymaker said. "He’d do stuff with a grin."

The Marine Corps lists Morris as from Crimora, where Moneymaker says Morris lived when he joined.

The family plans to bury him close to home but isn’t sure when the funeral will be, he said.

Other family members said they were too shocked to say much about Morris’ death.

An aunt, Morene Morris of New Hope said, "We love him and we’re going to miss him very much, that’s all a person can say."

From the News Record