Reed City veteran receives World War II medals

U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar presents World War II veteran Harry Morse with medals he earned during his time in the U.S. Navy during World War II during a ceremony Tuesday afternoon at Reed City Fields Assisted Living Facility. Morse served as an electrician’s mate on the USS Herndon during the D-Day invasion. (Pioneer photos/Brandon Fountain)

REED CITY — For much of his life, Harry Morse worked with electricity in one way or another.

Interested in electricity since his youthful days in junior high school in Saginaw, Morse spent four years in the U.S. Navy during World War II and then more than 40 years as an electrician.

Today, Morse has a new spark in his eyes. The 94-year-old has a shimmering set of military medals he earned more than 70 years ago serving on the USS Herndon as an electrician’s mate.

Brenda Clise and her father, Harry Morse, listen to U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar talk about the medals Morse earned when he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Moolenaar presented the medals Morse earned during a ceremony on Tuesday. (Pioneer photo/Brandon Fountain)

Decked out in red, white and blue suspenders and a flag bow tie, Morse received his medals Tuesday afternoon from U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, in a special ceremony at Reed City Fields Assisted Living Facility.

Morse received the Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three Battle Stars, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Honorable Service Lapel Pin and the Honorable Discharge Button. Like many veterans from those years, Morse did not receive the medals when he left the service.

Surrounded and congratulated by members of his family, friends, fellow residents and his Hospice of Michigan nurses, Morse even shed some tears after holding the medals in his hands.

“I had forgotten about my medals for so long,” Morse said prior to the ceremony. “I had tried before to get the medals. I never thought this would be possible.”

More than 70 years after serving in the U.S. Navy, Morse said his memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be, but he catches himself reminiscing when his friends and families bring up his stories.

“Someone says something or asks me a question about all those years ago, and I start to remember things — I remember some things really well,” he said.

Morse easily recalls the cannon blasts from Nazi positions on Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion as the USS Herndon’s crew of 325 and arsenal helped soldiers take the beach.

“We were right out there in the open, and they were shooting the cannons at us,” he said.

At some point during the battle, a ship next to the Herndon sank, and the crew helped take on survivors.

Following a presentation of military service medals to Reed City veteran Harry Morse on Tuesday afternoon, (from left to right) U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar, World War II veteran Harry Morse, Morse’s daughter, Brenda Clise, and son-in-law Dan Clise have photos taken by staff and others.

Unscathed in the battle, Morse said the Herndon hit a mine in the water, causing extensive damage.

“I never knew a ship could do it, but the bow of the ship came right on out of the water,” he said. “I don’t remember by how much, but it was pretty high. It came back down and then the whole ship shook and then it stopped.”

Dead in the water, Morse said crew members went right to work to restart the Herndon’s engines by hand.

Having sailed around the world during the Navy from 1942-46, Morse left the Navy and returned home to Doris, the love of his life, and began working in the electrical field.

With memories of spending time in Hawaii or sailing through the countries of the Mediterranean, Morse said there’s no other place he’d rather be than in Michigan.

During the ceremony, Moolenaar noted it was especially rewarding for him to be able to present Morse with his medals.

“It’s important for this country to continue to honor those who served our country and made it the great country it is today,” he said. “Harry, you’re a patriot.”

Morse’s daughter, Brenda Clise, and Hospice of Michigan helped in the efforts to have Morse receive his medals.

“Ramona (from Hospice of Michigan) did quite a lot of the paperwork and helped to get this to go through,” she said. “We’re very proud of him.”

avatar

Posted by Brandon Fountain

Leave a Reply